Cayetano dares Binay to disprove allegations of ex-Makati vice mayor

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

SENATE Majority Floor Leader Alan Peter Cayetano dared on Tuesday Vice President Jejomar Binay to disprove the allegations of his former ally that he pocketed kickbacks from the construction of the controversial Makati parking building during his term as city mayor.

"We want to give the Vice President all the opportunity to answer. We should give the Vice President an open invitation... Let me assure you, as far as I am concerned, that we will give all the courtesies and all the time to the Vice President," he said.

Cayetano even made a comparison between Binay and former President Fidel Ramos when the latter faced the Senate investigating body regarding the allegations of corruption in connection with the Centennial Project.

"Si dating President Ramos po kahit sinabihan ng Kongreso na hindi kailangan humarap personal at magpaliwanag ay personal na nagpilit na dapat siyang humarap sa pagdinig para ipagtanggol ang kaniyang sarili sa harap ng mamamayan Pilipino lalo pa at aniya ito ay kanyang proyekto at siya ang pasimuno dito na talagang ikinahanga ng marami," Cayetano said.

Appearing before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing, former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado admitted that he received kickbacks from the project and that it was "impossible" that Binay did not get a bigger share.

"Sabi mo (vice mayor Mercado) magiging ipokrito ka kung sinabi mong hindi ka nakinabang. By nakinabang, meaning kumita dito sa building na ito. Ngayon, kay Vice President o kay dating mayor Binay, kumita din po siya? So, you know it as a fact. Yan ba ay one time lang, sa bidding lang na ito, o sistema na ba yan sa Makati na meron kang kaunti, meron din si VP?" Cayetano asked Mercado.

Mercado said it was part of the mode or "kalakaran" for the top city officials to benefit from such projects.

Cayetano argued that the P2.7-billion parking building is clearly overpriced based on the "anti-lokohan book" used in the private sector.

Citing the Davis Langdon & Seah (DLS) handbook used primarily by quantity surveyors, Cayetano said that in the year 2012, the construction of car parks ranged from P17,000 to P20,000 per square meter; standard offices, P31,000 to P39,000, prestige or high-rise offices, P43,000 to P49,000, and general hospitals, P49,000 to P59,000.

In the plunder charges filed against the Vice President and his son, incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, the complainant claimed that the pricey building had an average cost of P84,000 per square meter.

Mayor Binay did not appear in the hearing on Tuesday citing personal reasons but maintained he will cooperate with the investigating body.

Cayetano also showed photos of the Makati building's ceiling, parking lot, toilet, and mirrors disproving the claim of City Government officials that the parking building is "world-class."

"Wala po kayong kisame o ceiling, nakalabas lahat ng mga tubo, nakalabas ang mga electrical. In other words, ordinary, hindi world class. Tama po ba? Huwag natin lokohin ang mga tao, hindi dapat naka-expose. Ang world-class parking po, napakadilim siguro para hindi natetempt ang magnanakaw or whatever," the senator told former city administrator Marjorie de Veyra.

During the first hearing, Mayor Binay claimed that the carpark is a green building.

But the senator said the carpark is likely a "world-class palusot" because as it turns out, the structure lacked the features of what constitutes a green building.

"Sabi niyo mahal dahil sa tatlong dahilan: dahil green, dahil world class, at dahil sa pundasyon. Doon sa green, is it a certified green building? No. Kaya nga meron tayong certification process para may magsasabi at nagse-certify na green nga. Ano po ang qualification ng green building? Sa media, ang sinabi ni mayor pati ni VP, dekalidad kasi world class at green," Cayetano said.

"Pagdating dito, nakaharap na kami at nagtatanong na, sabi nila, ‘our version of green.’ But your version of green is not certified. Bottom line, hindi certified green building ang car park," he concluded.

Meanwhile, Makati Representative Mar Len Abigail Binay, daughter of Vice President Binay, showed up at the Senate after it was reported that the Senator Cayetano pinpointed to her as the one behind the filing of plunder and graft charges against him and his wife, Taguig Mayor Ma. Laarni Lani Cayetano.

The Makati lawmaker told reporters that she personally went to the Senate so she can confront Cayetano on the allegations hurled against her regarding the said filing of graft charges against them.

Representative Binay who earlier described Cayetano as a bully said she is willing to face him and fight him on his allegations against her and her family.

"Handa ako harapin siya at kausapin. Nais ko rin ipakita ang suporta sa aking kapatid at sa aking ama. Hindi naman confrontation ang gusto ko kundi magkapaliwanagan kami," she said.

Cayetano claimed that the complainant, Rod Vera, was Binay's law school classmate, and that her "Thursday group" or classmates and associates who visit her house every Thursday was the one behind the case.

Vera, said Cayetano, is also very close to Vice President Binay.

But Representative Binay belied all the allegations of Cayetano insisting that she has no knowledge about the filing of the case against the couple.

Representative Binay said she cannot figure out why Cayetano has been attacking her and her father considering the friendship that they used to have.

But Cayetano, for his part, said the Binay should conduct a thorough investigation against him and his wife as he expressed to face them anywhere and anytime.

"Kung gusto nila sa session hall pa ng Makati. Dapat mag pa imbestiga sila kahit saan, kahit sa Senado at kahit sa Makati session hall pa dahil gusto ko makita at marinig ng taong bayan ang totoo," Cayetano said.

It was reported that graft and plunder charges were filed against Cayetano and wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani surrounding his alleged misuse of his Priority Development Assistance Fund and unexplained wealth based on a leap of the senator's worth from P15 million in 2010 to P23 million in 2011.

Cayetano said the group of Representative Binay was behind the move against them would often merge in lawmaker's residence and would allegedly discuss some political strategies over mahjongs and poker to include the filing of charges against political rivals of the Binays such as that against Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

But Representative Binay said there is no truth to Cayetano's allegations.

Senator Nancy Binay, for her part, challenged those accusing them to do an ocular inspection.

"Why are they asking the Binays to produce evidence on their allegations," she lamented.

The senator said that some of her colleagues are taking advantage of their position in the Senate to engage in political persecution and trial by publicity, entertaining allegations that cannot even stand in court.

"It pains me to see the Senate being used as a venue for personal intentions," she added. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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