MANILA (Mabuhay) – A lawyers group on Wednesday filed criminal charges with the Office of the Ombudsman against Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano over various alleged anomalies, including the purchase of overpriced multicabs.
In an interview, Philippine Association for the Advocacy of Civil Liberties member Philip Sawali said in 2012, the Taguig City local government headed by Mayor Lani purchased 18 multicabs supposedly using the Priority Development Assistance Fund allocation of Alan Peter amounting to P9 million.
In its complaint, the group said Mayor Lani authorized the purchase of the 18 multicabs amounting to about P498,000 each, which was “grossly and unconscionably overpriced.”
It added that based on market price for brand new multicabs, there was an overprice of more than P300,000 per unit, or P5.4 million for the 18 units purchased.
PAACL said the Cayetanos violated Section 3 of the Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act for the purchase of the alleged overpriced multicabs.
Aside from the two, charges were also filed against then-city councilors Ronette Franco, Aurelio Paulo Bartolome, Gamaliel San Pedro, Milagros Valencia, Roderick Papa, Estela Gasgonia, Baltazar Mariategue, Ricardo Jordan, Jaime Lagampa, Michelle Gonzales, Carlito Ogalinola, Erwin Manalili, Edwin Eron, Jeffrey Morales, Rodil Marcelino, and Rommel Tanyag.
“The amount used to purchase the multicabs could not have been disbursed by the city of Taguig without the concurrence and approval of the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Taguig during the year 2012,” it added.
Net worth increase
Aside from that, the PAACL also filed another graft complaint for the “sudden increase” of Alan Peter’s net worth despite “no new source of income,” Sawali said.
In a separate complaint, the group said the senator’s net worth increased from P15.804 million in 2010 to P23.210 million in 2011.
“The substantial and inordinate increase of almost P7.5 million in his net worth in 2011 is clearly not justified by his income as a public servant and/ or his other business endeavors,” it noted. “Where then did respondent Cayetano get his wealth? The ineluctable conclusion is that the substantial increase in respondent Cayetano’s wealth is from the misuse of, and overpayments, from his PDAF.”
Meanwhile, plunder charges were also filed against Mayor Lani for allegedly having ghost employees in 2012.
In its complaint, the group said Mayor Lani hired 3,188 casual employees in 2012, a year before the May 2013 elections.
It added that they question the release of payment to the 3,188 personnel based only on written daily time sheets instead of the regularly used biometric machines.
“The ineluctable conclusion if that the 3,188 personnel, or a majority thereof, are “ghost” employees, with the purported salaries of these “ghost” employees illegally used in the 2013 Elections were the respondents, the husband of Cayetano, Sen. Cayetano and her brother-in-law, Lino Edgardo Cayetano, were all candidates,” it said.
“The patent payments made to “ghost” employees, as borne out by the records, clearly show that respondent Cayetano and the members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Taguig, conspired with one another to commit the despicable act to the serious damage and prejudice of the government in the amount of P313,249 million and should therefore be charged with plunder,” it added.
Not politically motivated?
In an interview with reporters, lawyer Roderick Vera, president of the PAACL, clarified that no political group is supporting them in the filing of charges against the Cayetanos.
“No political group supporting us, we are a group of independent lawyers, we felt the need to file this to make the public know what the senator and the mayor has been doing,” he said.
He also denied that the filing of charges is in connection to Sen. Alan Peter’s supposed plan to run in the 2016 presidential elections.
When asked why he only filed the charges now, he said: “As you can see the documents, it’s extensive, so we had to make sure that everything is complete.”
Distraction on Senate probe
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Wednesday, the Taguig local government denied the accusations, and claimed that the filing of charges may just be a tactic of the supporters of the Binay family to distract the public from the ongoing investigation on the alleged overpricing of the construction of the Makati City parking building.
Taguig City Councilor Darwin Icay claimed that Vera was a law school classmate of Makati Rep. Abby Binay.
“Their agenda is clear, make up bogus charges and distract from the ongoing investigation on the Binay’s corruption involving the Makati parking building. These are purely lies based on maliciously distorted fact,” he said.
He also noted that the Commission on Audit had no questions in the purchase of the 18 multicabs, which were used as mini-ambulances and firetrucks in the city.
“The Binay camp is free to check the figures released by the COA in their reports. Instead, they distort these facts and figures to mislead the public and destroy the reputation of the Cayetanos,” Icay said.
On Wednesday, the Senate blue ribbon committee conducted a hearing to probe the alleged overpricing in Makati City Hall parking building.
On July 22, plunder and graft charges were filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati City Mayor Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr., due to alleged “unconscionable overpricing” in the construction of an 11-storey parking building that the city government supposedly built for P1.56 billion. (MNS)