Binay decries unfair Senate probe

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

(UPDATED) AFTER "closely observing" the hearings at the Senate, Vice President Jejomar Binay has concluded that the investigation on the alleged overpriced construction of a Makati parking building during his term as city mayor will never be impartial.

Binay said even before the investigation, some senators have allegedly passed judgment based on the mere "say-so" of his opponents and without any shred of concrete evidence presented.

"One of them even admitted that the investigation was due to my plans to run for president," said Binay on Tuesday, apparently referring to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, an ally of staunch critic, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano.

"When you investigate, you should be impartial," Binay said. "It is therefore clear that the motive is politics."

In his testimony before the Senate on Tuesday, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado said it is impossible for Binay not to have received kickbacks from the project that was allegedly overpriced by around P2 billion.

But Mercado, who admitted that he pocketed money from the project, has no proof to back up his claim.

"I swear by God and the people that I have not received nor asked money for this project or any other project in Makati," Binay, who ran the country's financial district for 21 years, said.

He added that the initial findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) that there is no overpricing have not been disputed.

"The COA, with the help of the technical specialists and regular auditors, accomplished not only one or two but many reviews and audit all the budget on the construction of the Building 2," he said.

Technical audit specialists testified that the price of the five-phase project was reasonable.

"But in the face of Mr. Mercado's admission that he pocketed money from the project, some senators wish to coddle and protect him. This saddens me," said Binay.

Binay said that former vice mayor Mercado was angry at his family after losing to his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, in the mayoral race.

"We trusted him (Mercado) so much and was even dubbed as little mayor," he said, telling reporters that Mercado was the one who runs errands during his term.

Binay also said he was saddened when Mercado revealed that he received kickbacks on the Makati City Hall II project, and at the same time, happy on his admission.

Binay however said Mercado’s admission in the Senate inquiry on benefitting in the project had political agenda. Likewise, the Senate should file a perjury complaint against Mercado right after his confession, he added.

"It (the investigation) is already calculated. Just like what Trillanes said (to Mercado in the hearing): You’re a state witness, don’t hesitate (to expose the truth)," Binay said.

Mercado and Binay's main accuser Renato Bondal have said that unidentified people are allegedly following them and their families.

Mercado even read to the Senate a letter to his family in November 2012 pointing the blame to the Binay family should anything bad happens to him.

The Vice President though was no longer surprised by the turn of events as he had already anticipated an intensified "campaign of lies and vilification" leading up to the presidential polls.

Binay also said there are many issues in the different agencies of the government that the Senate should prioritize more, instead of focusing on the alleged overpricing of the parking building.

Binay, who declared his plan to seek the presidency as early as 2011, has consistently topped pre-election surveys. (With Ruth Abbey Gita/Sunnex)

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