MANILA, Philippines—Rocked by successive waves of scandal and controversy, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp has spoken out against the latest issue, concerning his alleged property holdings in Batangas and Tagaytay.
The vice president stated that he sold the 5,000-square-meter Tagaytay property in 2012, contrary to the claims of former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.
“The Tagaytay property was sold in December 2012 to Constant Builders. The change in the title ownership is being processed by (the Bureau of Internal Revenue). The property is listed in his (statement of assets, liabilities and net worth),” Martin Subido, Binay’s lawyer, said in a statement issued on Friday.
Subido explained that Binay – who has been accused by former political ally Mercado of taking government kickbacks – is no longer the owner of the Tagaytay property in question, as Mercado claimed by Mercado at Wednesday’s Senate inquisition.
The former ally likewise alleged before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that the Binay family also owns a 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas province.
The Binay camp’s version of the story is that the property in the township of Rosario is not owned by the Vice President, as claimed by Mercado, but that he merely rented 9-hectares of the said parcel of land for his piggery and for the flower farm of his wife, ex-Makati Mayor Elenita Binay. Furthermore, Subido said that the 3-hectare portion allocated for the piggery was sold to Agrifortuna Inc. in 2010, and is now being leased Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corporation.
In reaction to Mercado’s claims, lawyer JV Bautista, interim secretary of Binay’s party, the United Nationalist Alliance, said: “This is proof that Mercado is deceiving the public because he made it appear that (the Tagaytay property) still belongs to the Vice President when it was already sold long ago. Just like his deception on the Rosario, Batangas, property that was never a property of the VP at all.”
Bautista proceeded to decry Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima as “biased” against Binay, because the former said that Mercado was a “credible” witness.
“By claiming that Mercado is a credible witness, she (De Lima) betrays her own bias and prejudice against VP Binay,” Bautista said.
“A true professional appraisal of the ‘testimonies’ of Mercado will show that they are speculative, self-serving and coming from (a) polluted source—a witness who has an ax to grind against VP Binay,” he added.
Three witnesses have come forward against Binay: Mercado, Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso, They are all currently under the DOJ’s Witness Protection Program.