Binay inhibits from Senate probe into Makati carpark building

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SENATOR Nancy Binay said Tuesday that she is not participating in the Senate probe into the overpriced car park building in Makati City.

Binay, whose father and brother are at the center of the controversy, criticized the move of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, saying the investigation smacks of politicking in connection with the coming national elections.

"That's really surprising. What is the national relevance of the issue on alleged overpriced building? We have so much work to do in the Senate and then he wants an investigation on this. What is sad is that this probe has 2016 elections smeared all over," Binay told reporters.


The senator also challenged their detractors to file an impeachment against her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, if they have sufficient evidence to pin him down.

"They can file an impeachment complaint against him. I think that is the proper forum," the senator said, as she defended the presumptive presidential candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance in 2016.

She said, however, that she and her family have long prepared themselves to anticipate all possible issues against the Vice President or any member of their family but that it is unfortunate some potential political rivals will attempt to hit them by using the Senate as a platform.

"The Senate rating has already dropped dangerously, and is down, then politics will still be injected. I really don't know how the Senate can improve its soiled image," she said.

"Besides, a case has already been filed before the Ombudsman and the mere fact that COA (Commission on Audit) already said the price of the building is okay. It issued a certification to this effect and then somebody will still file a resolution on it. That's really puzzling," she added.

When asked if she was offended or hurt by the move of Trillanes, Senator Binay answered in the negative and gave this reply: "As I've said (before), bring it on!"

Nonetheless, the senator said they welcome any inquiry on the matter as this will provide them the needed venue in airing their side and to clarify what she has claimed as "misinformation" peddled on the issue on the parking space of a building, not an entire "parking building."

"On our part we welcome the Senate investigation. My brother (Makati City Mayor Erwin Jejomar 'Junjun' Binay) can answer all questions when it comes to the building. He can easily defend the issue," she said.

Senator Binay, however, said she will likely inhibit from participating in the proceedings that will be handled by the blue ribbon panel out of "delicadeza."

Trillanes filed a resolution asking the Senate to investigate the alleged overpriced car park building built when Vice President Binay was still mayor of Makati City.

Trillanes said the building was overpriced by more P1.3 billion.

The senator said the senate investigation should be considered a chance for Vice President Binay to air his side and the truth about the allegations hurled against him.

"This exercise of oversight function of the Senate will give the Vice President a chance to clear his name, if he is indeed innocent. If not, then it is high time that the Filipino people will get to know more about this person who is aspiring to be the next president of this country," Trillanes said.

Trillanes said it is the obligation of each public servant and those who are elected by the people to shed light on issues that involved the money of the Filipino people.

"Senate investigations can be done when it involves public interest; at the same time part sya ng oversight functions natin. Kailangan natin tignan ang mga nang-aabusoong ahensya ng gobyerno, so ganun lang po yan. Maalala natin itong Napoles Pork Barel Scam na ito, dito nakita ng taumbayan kung anong nangyari, so titignan po natin yan ditto," he said.

The Commission on Audit (COA) had cleared Binay and the Makati councilors of any irregularities and overprice of the "parking building".

Trillanes, in an interview, said that his reason for sponsoring the resolution was prompted by "public interest."

"There is public interest involved so we have to know about this. If there is no problem, then that should be good for the VP. At least he can clear his name. If not, that should also be good," he said.

The issue of whether the transactions were indeed above board as being claimed by the Binay camp, Trillanes said such can only be attested when the issue is being taken up in a Senate hearing, including those alleged certification coming from the COA.

Under Resolution 826, Trillanes said, "The Filipino people have the right to information especially on matters involving alleged graft, corruption, and plunder of high officials and at all levels of government."

Further, it is the foremost duty of the Philippine legislature to ensure that bidding and procurement procedures contain safeguards against misuse of public funds for illicit personal gain, as well as, to ensure that public funds are used to benefit the Filipino people.”

On July 22, plunder and graft charges were filed against then-Makati mayor and now Vice President Binay; his son, Mayor Jun-Jun Binay; and 23 others, due to alleged "unconscionable overpricing" in the construction of an 11-storey parking building that the City Government supposedly built for P1.56 billion, which should be P798,200,000.00 as the reasonable cost of construction based on the present construction standards for high-end commercial buildings of the National Statistics Office.

According to Resolution 826, the actual payments for the said building as of 31 December 2013, per the COA Report of 17 February 2014, already amounts to a total of P2,367,679,633.95, with the building contract split into five (5) phases in violation of existing procurement law but which were all miraculously won by one and the same contractor. Hence, the City of Makati actually spent around to P 2.4 Billion for the said building, thus, placing the actual overpriced sum in the amount of P1.601 Billion. It added that this overpriced amount could have built more than 3,000 classrooms, inclusive of toilets and furniture.

"The P2.4 billion cost of the 11-storey Makati City carpark building is indeed shocking when compared to the cost even the most luxurious buildings in the country like the 46-storey Shang Grand Tower, the 19th tallest in the country, which was built for only P2 billion," Trillanes said.

The resolution also stated the alleged overprice in the construction cost of the 22-storey Makati City Hall building constructed by the City of Makati in the 90s, which amounted to an average cost of P240,000.00 per square meter, is even more shocking, outrageous and unconscionable.

"This far exceeds by a whopping P100,000.00 per square meter the total cost of the two-storey housing units built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) for soldiers and policemen under the AFP/PNP Housing Project initiated by President Aquino, which is pegged at P140,000.00 per unit," Trillanes added.

The resolution also called for the investigation of persistent reports on the alleged misuse of local government funds for programs to boost the national campaign of a former local executive by funding his trips, and hosting visiting local government executives; a purported P230 Million infomercial campaign which started in 2009 using Makati funds; bogus projects and ghost employees; blatant and brazen overpricing and bid rigging; among others. Said alleged anomalies constitute blatant misuse if not grave abuse and misappropriation of public funds under the leaderships of Vice President Binay as former mayor of Makati City and currently sitting Mayor Junjun Binay.

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel sought to have one of his committees to be made part of the investigating panels.

Blue Ribbon chairman Senator Teofisto "TG" Guingona manifested on the floor, following the referral to his panel of Trillanes' resolution, the request of Pimentel to allow one of his committees to be assigned as sub-committee in the called proceedings.

In Guingona's argument why he will be assigning a sub-committee to handle the investigation of VP Binay and his son, Mayor Binay , the senate blue ribbon chief used the rules of Procedure governing inquiries in aid of legislation which stated : Section 20 stating regarding subcommittees-Delegation of Authoritiy -- The Chairman of a Committee may create subcommittees as maybe deemed necessary for the purpose of performing any and all acts which the committee as a whole is authorized to do and perform except the power for contempt... Likewise, Rule 10 Sec 18 of the Rules of the Senate stating that "The Chairman of each committee may designate the vice chairman or such vice chairman of his committee and create such subcommittees as may be deemed necessary."

Pimentel, said Guingona, requested to handle the investigation on the allegation.

Pimentel is the current president of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in which the Vice President was the co-founder and former party chairman.

Makati Mayor Junjun Binay reportedly said the City Government is ready to face a Senate investigation on the alleged overpricing of the construction of Makati City Hall Building 2, a 11-storey office building with parking floors, that has become the object of a plunder complaint filed against the Vice President, himself and other city officials. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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