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Ex-VP Binay charged with graft, falsification over Makati parking building

Exactly two weeks after his term ended, former vice president Jejomar Binay Sr. was formally charged in court by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged overpriced construction of the P2.2-billion Makati parking building.

In separate charge sheets filed before the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan Thursday morning, the Ombudsman through its prosecutorial arm Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) charged Binay Sr. with four counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, nine counts of Falsification of Public Documents as defined under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) and one count of malversation of public funds as defined under Article 217 of the RPC.

His son, dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. was charged with two counts of graft and one count of malversation.

In exchange for the Binays' and their co-accused’s provisional liberty, the OSP recommended a P30,000 bail bond for each count of graft, P24,000 bail for each count of falsification and P40,000 bail bond for the malversation charge.

Based on the information cases, the Binay father and son, in conspiracy with the other city officials, awarded a contract to Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. (MANA) for the first and second phases or the design stage of the Makati City Hall Building II project, allegedly without holding a public bidding.

The OSP said payments totaling P11,011,294.77 were given to MANA “despite its failure to deliver the approved plans and specifications under the contract”.

Meanwhile, the OSP said the Binay father and son must also be held accountable for the construction stage of the project by awarding to Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation from 2007 to 2011 three contracts totaling P1.486 billion allegedly through “simulated public bidding”.

The OSP said the contracts were awarded to Hilmarc’s despite the absence of approved budget appropriation, project plan, and specifications.

It said the invitation to bid supposedly published in the tabloid Balita was falsified.

The OSP added that Binay Sr. in conspiracy with the other respondents also falsified the Post Qualification Report, despite knowing that there was no real bidding conducted.

The OSP said the Binay father and son also approved the release of payments to Hilmarc’s despite being fully aware that its accomplishment reports were “baseless” as there were no supporting documents submitted to back them.

Named as co-accused in the graft charges were the following former Makati government officials:

  • Former city administrator Marjorie De Veyra
  • Former city legal officer Pio Kenneth Dasal
  • Former budget officer Lorenza Amores
  • Former city central planning management heads Virginia Hernandez and Line Dela Peña
  • Former BAC head Giovanni Condes
  • Former BAC vice chariman Ulysses Orienza,
  • Former BAC Secretariat head Manolito Uyaco
  • Former BAC Technical Working Group chairman Rodel Nayve
  • Former city engineers Mario Badillo, Arnel Cadangan and Emerito Magat
  • Former city accountants Leonila Querijero and Cecilio Lim III
  • Former acting city accountant Raydes Pestaño
  • Former city treasurer Nelia Barlis
  • Former General Services Department officer Norman Flores

Also named as co-accused in the graft charges were private individuals Orlando Mateo from MANA and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s.

Meanwhile charged as the Binay father and son’s co-accused in the malversation case were former Makati officials De Veyra, Dasal, Amores, Hernandez, Badillo, Querijero, Pestaño, Barlis and Lim as well as Mateo of MANA.

Named as Binay Sr.’s co-accused in the falsificiation cases were De Veyra, Dasal, Amores, Condes, Flores, Nayve, Orienza and Badillo.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who initiated the Senate investigation against Binay was elated with the Ombudsman's move.

“Finally! This proves that the Senate investigations we conducted against him weren’t just political,” Trillanes said in a text message to reporters.

‘Diversionary move’

Binay's camp on Thursday branded the filing of graft and falsication cases against the former vice president as a diversionary tactic, even as it assured that the former vice president is ready to face his accusers.

"Clearly this is a diversionary move intended to shield her (Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales) political patrons from public indignation," Joey Salgado, Binay's spokesperson, said in a press statement.

He accused the anti-graft body of being the protector of the previous ruling party, the Liberal Party.

Allegedly no public bidding

Based on the Ombudsman's earlier resolution, Binay Sr. in conspiracy with the other city officials, awarded a contract to Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. (MANA) for the first and second phases or the design stage of the Makati City Hall Building II project, allegedly without holding a public bidding.

The OSP said four payments to MANA totaling P11.97 million were processed and approved despite the incomplete submission of deliverables such as design plans, working drawings, and technical specifications.

It was in October last year when the Ombudsman ruled that there was probable cause to file graft and falsification of public documents cases before the Sandiganbayan against Binay Sr., his son former Makati mayor Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr. and 22 other former officials of Makati City government over the alleged overpriced construction of the P2.28-billion Makati City Hall Building II also referred to as the Makati parking building.

The Ombudsman said the implementation of the project, which was divided into six phases, took place from 2007 to 2013 despite the absence of approved design standards, contract plans, agency cost estimates, detailed engineering and programs of work, among others.

In February of this year, the Ombudsman affirmed its ruling, denying the respective motions for reconsideration of Binay Jr. and the other respondents. 

In the same month, graft and falsification of public documents cases were filed against the younger Binay and 13 other individuals before the Sandiganbayan over the alleged anomalous construction stage of the project.

The Ombudsman, however, deferred the filing of cases against the older Binay due to his immunity from suit at that time.

Under the Constitution, impeachable officials such as President, Vice, President and Supreme Court Chief Justice cannot be charged in court while they are still holding the position.

Binay Sr.'s term ended on June 30.

Other cases

Aside from the charges filed at Sandiganbayan, Binay Sr. is also facing investigation before the Ombudsman for five plunder complaints, one of which is still in connection with the Makati parking building anomaly.          

The other plunder complaints are in connection with the overpriced construction of a College of Nursing Building in the University of Makati (UMak) and the Makati Science High School, as well as the alleged illegal conversion of a public property in Barangay Comembo in Makati to a private property of one of the vice president’s alleged dummies.

The fifth plunder complaint was in connection with the alleged anomalous sale of a one-hectare lot owned by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) to property developer Alphaland Corporation.

“Plunder complaints are independent with other complaints. Ung kasong natapos na [ang investigation] we will file [the case]. For these plunder complaints, were are still gathering evidence,” Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said in an earlier interview. — with Amita Legaspi/KG/RSJ/NB, GMA News