BOY SCOUTS DEAL
Ombudsman panel recommends graft raps vs. ex-VP BinayBy JOSEPH TRISTAN ROXAS,GMA News
The Field Investigation Office of the Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of graft charges against former Vice President Jejomar Binay in connection with the alleged anomalous sale of property owned by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) in Makati City.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Ombudsman said the FIO team has recommended the indictment of Binay for alleged violation of Sections 3(e) and 3(g) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The case, however, still has to undergo preliminary investigation to determine probable cause.
The FIO also found BSP senior vice president Wendel Avisado, former Marikina City Mayor Del de Guzman and Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr. liable for graft. De Guzman and Espino were included due to their positions as BSP executives.
Other BSP officials named by the FIO are J. Miguel De Jesus, Enrique Lagdameo, Pedro Destura, Dale Corvera, Maximo Edralin, Jr., Remedios Petilla, Roberto Pagdanganan, Harmes Sembrano, Mildred Garay, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Leo Lasacar, Danilo Asiaten, Lutgardo Barbo, Jose Mari Pelaez, Ireneo Aquino, Jose Eduardo Delgado, Henry Dy, Jose Ma. Gastardo, Pepito Carpio, Nemesio Miranda, Jr., Jaime Semana, Wilfredo Chato, Alan Zulueta, Efren Edgard Dieta, Rodolfo Tamani, Von Carlo Yacob, J. Rizal Pangilinan, Salud Bagalso, and Jorge Banal Sr.
The FIO further recommended the filing of charges for violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Alphaland Makati Place, Inc. (AMPI) president Mario Oreta, authorized revenue official Teodoro Garcia, revenue officer Mark Anthony Panganiban, and group supervisor Romeo Tomas.
Binay, Avisado, De Guzman, Pagdanganan, Lasacar, Palaez, Delgado, Dy and Carpio can also possibly face an administrative complaint for gross neglect of duty.
The offense of gross neglect of duty is punishable by perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits, among others.
Binay remains as a member of the BSP National Executive Board, based on National Office Memorandum No. 30 dated May 11, 2017.
The case stemmed from the P600-million sale of the 10,000-square meter BSP property on Malugay Street to AMPI in June 2011 by virtue of an authorization from the BSP National Executive Board.
According to the Ombudsman, the FIO found the price tag to be undervalued since the Omnibus Loan and Security Agreement between BSP and AMPI stated that the property was mortgaged for P1.75 billion.
Furthermore, AMPI commissioned Intech Property Appraisal on November 25, 2015 to estimate the value of the propety and its improvements.
The Ombudsman said records showed Intech had a total appraisal value of P10.13 billion for the BSP property. This includes the P1.7 billion land value, or P170,000 per square-meter, and improvements pegged at P8.43 billion.
The FIO included the Internal Revenue Officials for exempting the transaction from the payment of capital gains tax which it said resulted in a loss of P62 million worth of revenue for the government.
The FIO said the grant of exemption without a ruling from the Bureau of Internal Revenue shows "manifest partiality and evident bad faith" on the revenue officials.
In 2015, former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado accused Binay of getting a P651-million kickback from the deal. Binay then allegedly used the money to fund his vice presidential bid in 2010.
Mercado said BSP was supposed to receive P600 million for the development of a one-hectare property in Makati City, donated by BF Goodrich Philippines (now Sime Darby), to the BSP in 1976.
He said the BSP should have received more from the deal, since the value of the property in question already increased after having been reclassified.
Binay has since denied the allegations, while the BSP dismissed claims that its contract with Alphaland was anomalous.
Binay is already facing at least two cases at the Sandiganbayan in connection with his role as city mayor in the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Parking Building and the rigged procurement for the construction of the Makati Science High School.
His spokesperson, Joey Salgado, questioned the timing of the FIO findings especially now that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is about to retire next month.
"Clearly, the Ombudsman intends to spend her last days in office pursuing her personal and political agenda against former VP Binay while being a true-blue Yellow protector to the end. It’s selective justice, pure and simple," Salgado said in a statement.
Salgado said Morales never runs out of complaints against Binay even if it lacks sufficient proof. He said this is despite Morales' pronouncements that high-profile cases such as the third batch of barrel scam cases will be the responsibility of her successor.
"She justifies this by citing the alleged absence of evidence and lack of time, even if an affidavit has been signed by Janet Napoles naming these high-profile allies and personalities. But the Ombudsman can and will always find time against the former Vice President, even if the complaint lacks basis in fact," he said. —KBK/KG, GMA News