MANILA (Mabuhay) — Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay lambasted his political detractors for allegedly omitting from the evidence submitted to the Ombudsman an ordinance which included the names of their political allies as principal sponsors of moves to appropriate funds for the Makati City Hall Building 2.
The Mayor said the complainants failed to provide the Ombudsman a copy of City Ordinance No. 2008-035.
The ordinance was principally sponsored by several councilors, among them Romulo Peña, who was then sectoral representative for the Liga ng mga Barangay, and then Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.
The said ordinance is entitled “An Ordinance Appropriating Two Billion Two Hundred Sixty Million Pesos (P2,260,000,000.00) as Supplemental Budget No. 2 for Calendar Year 2008 Intended for Various Projects, Plans and Programs Enumerated in the Explanation of Expenditures Copy of Which is Hereto Attached as Annex A, Funds Shall Be Taken from the Approved Land Bank Loan, Subject to All Laws and Auditing Procedures.”
The ordinance covers appropriations for Building 2, which is the subject of the plunder complaint filed by Renato Bondal against the mayor, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and members of the City Council.
Peña is the incumbent Vice Mayor and a member of the Liberal Party (LP), while Mercado ran for Mayor in 2010 as official candidate of the Nacionalista Party (NP). Bondal also ran for mayor in 2013 as official candidate of the NP. The Senate probe into the allegations of Bondal is being pushed by Senator Antonio Trillanes, also a member of NP.
“The group of Bondal cannot say that their allies were merely presiding officers. The ordinance is very clear: their names appeared as sponsors. By failing to include this ordinance among the pieces of evidence they submitted to the Ombudsman, our detractors are deliberately trying to mislead the public and the Ombudsman into thinking that the NP and LP in the City Council are not involved when the evidence points to the contrary,” he said.
Mayor Binay said he suspects the game plan is to have him and the rest of the City Council suspended except the Vice Mayor.
“Their plan is to have me and the entire City Council suspended, to pave the way for the designation of their LP ally as acting mayor. The City Council will now be filled with NP, LP and other characters who have not won a single election but may now be appointed, thereby subverting the will of the people of Makati,” he said.
“This is no different from the 2006 suspension of my father and the entire City Council ordered by the Arroyo regime to get back at my father for being the leader of the opposition,” he added.
The complaint uses as its basis construction data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) to claim that City Hall Building 2 is overpriced but the Mayor said the NSO had admitted that their data had limitations. The NSO said their computations were based on approved building applications and documentary requirements, and not on actual construction cost.
He added that the allegations have already been refuted in an intensive investigation conducted by the Commission on Audit (COA) in February in response to a request made by the complainants. Moreover, the investigation process has started since the Ombudsman has asked the parties to comment.
Trillanes ‘prejudged issue’
Binay earlier said Trillanes had “prejudged the issue” and was apparently not interested in ferreting out the truth. He said it was apparent from the senator’s statements that he had made up his mind and intended to use the Senate hearing as “a platform to malign the name of the Vice President.”
The mayor has demanded “no less than a public apology” from Trillanes, an NP member, and the Senate committee tasked to conduct the probe once the allegations are proven to be false.
Nevertheless, the mayor said he and the Vice President were ready to face the Senate inquiry, but appealed to the members of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to remain impartial and nonpartisan in conducting the investigation.
Sen. Nancy Binay has said that out of delicadeza she will not propound questions at the hearing, but nonetheless expressed hope her peers wold be objective.
The chairman of the Blue Ribbon, Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, and the Senate President Franklin Drilon are LP stalwarts. Guingona quickly gave the thumbs up to a request to create a subcommittee of the blue ribbon, led by Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, to preside over the Senate inquiry.
Pimentel had a public falling out with Vice President Binay in 2013, over the accepance into the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate of Pimentel’s rival Juan Miguel Zubiri. Binay, one of the so-called “3 Kings” of UNA had explained that selection of candidates is a collegial decision, not his alone to make, but Pimentel said he could not campaign alongside Zubiri; he later ran under the LP-NP slate.
Both the mayor and the camp of Vice President Binay have maintained that the allegations of overpricing did not have factual nor legal basis, and were made as part of an organized demolition campaign against the Vice President, who consistently tops ratings and is seen as the leading contender for the presidency in 2016. (MNS)