MAKATI CITY, Philippines — A former political opponent of Vice President Jejomar Binay filed recently graft and plunder charges against the country’s No. 2 official and 30 others in connection with the alleged overpricing of the construction of the P1.33-billion Makati Science High School.
In an 11-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, lawyer Renato Bondal said the construction of the building was overpriced by P862 million.
Bondal said Binay, who was then Makati mayor, conspired with his son Makati City Mayor Erwin Jejomar “Junjun” Binay Jr., some former and current Makati officials, and 10 executives of Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.
Junjun Binay was Makati City councilor at the time his father was the city mayor.
This is the second plunder complaint Bondal filed against the Binays. The first complaint was in connection with the supposed overpricing of Makati City Hall Building II.
Bondal said the construction of the high school building was “implemented using the same modus operandi employed in the construction of the overpriced Makati Parking Building.”
He said that the construction was divided into six phases, with simulated bidding for each piece, which he said is prohibited under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act of 2003.
Bondal also said that during a visit by the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, which is investigating the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II and other allegations of irregularities against Binay, it was found that the construction of the high school building was not yet finished.
“Makikita ninyo, January 2014, accepted na and completed ang Phase 6, kaso nung nag-inspeksyon ang mga senador, may lumabas na ang 8th, 9th, 10th floor ay hindi pa tapos, pero bayad na ang phase na iyon, kaya malaki talagang katiwalian ang nakikita,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bondal urged the Ombudsman to preventively suspend the Vice President and other Makati City government officials so that they cannot to tamper the evidence.
“Gaya ng unang complaint namin, dito sa pangalawang complaint, humihingi kami ng preventive suspension, kasi marami pa talagang madidiskubreng anomalya sa city government of Makati,” he said.
However, he admitted challenges in accessing documents.
“Napakahirap um-access ng mga dokumento, kaya sana magkaroon ng preventive suspension para ang mga dokumentong hindi inilalabas, magkaroon kami ng pagkakataong makuha,” Bondal said.
Reacting to charges filed against Binay, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, United Nationalist Alliance interim president, simply asked, “Sino ba si Bondal?”
Tiangco said Bondal is an ally of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, a former Binay ally who is now among Binay’s chief accusers.
“Siya (Bondal) ang kakampi ni Mercado. In 2010, siya ay tumakbong councilor under Mercado, and lost,” he said.
Mercado had accused the vice president of involvement in irregularities and of having hidden wealth.
Tiangco also said that in 2013, Mercado ran against the younger Binay in the mayoral race.
“Both times, natalo siya,” he said. “More importantly, these buildings are in Makati, ang inaakusahan ay ang mayor ng Makati, at ang kalaban ay taga-Makati.”
“Ang mga mamamayan ng Makati ang tunay na nakakaalam kung may anomalya nga, kasi kung totoo man ang sinasabi niya (Bondal), bakit hindi siya nanalo sa eleksyon?” he said.
Tiangco also said that local government units undergo an audit every year and that the Commission on Audit has never found any anomaly in the transactions entered into by the Makati City government.
However, Tiangco assured the public that the Binay camp will answer the charges. (GMA News)