MANILA, Philippines – According to former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, former ally and trusted friend of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the development of the alleged “Hacienda Binay” utilized Makati City funds and personnel.
Mercado provided documents to support his testimonies regarding the 350-hectare agricultural land in Rosario town, Batangas province, allegedly owned by the Binays.
Based from a letter presented by Mercado, dated Sept. 10, 1997, Elenita Binay, VP Binay’s wife, approved a project proposal to construct a rest house on the P1.2 billion farm in Batangas. This is contrary to the claims of the Binays that they only leased the said property for Agri-Fortuna and JCB Farms but later on sold their shares in 2010.
Mercado have documents on hand, starting with the Rodolfo Roque Bongato Architects’ main house plan, bearing the supposed signature of Rodolfo Bongato and then Makati Mayor Binay.
The schematic blueprint, development phase, bidding and negotiations, construction administration and structural, electrical and sanitary engineering were all stated in the proposal. The architectural design alone already cost P350,000.
The other provision are: P40,000 to be paid upon submission of schematic design; P40,000 for approval of preliminary studies; P40,000 upon submission of construction documents; P30,000 upon submission of plans for bidding; and P200,000 for the construction administration phase.
Another letter, dated Jan. 29, 1996, showed meal and transportation allowances for both Agri-Fortuna and JCB Farms workers.
Department of Engineering and Public Works of Makati employee Renato Mandrigue, one of Binay’s trusted men, was also exposed as he was the one who requested finances for the purchase of equipments and materials used in the so-called hacienda.
Price estimates of requested budget were forwarded to then Agri-Fortuna general manager Nestor Alampay.
Nine other Makati City Hall employees who worked at the Batangas farms were also exposed.
“This is one proof that funds and personnel of the city were used to work on the farm,” Mercado said in the hearing.
At the present, the hacienda comprises two mansions, a pavilion, a 40-car garage, two man-made lagoons, an orchard and a cock farm.
Binays’ camp, on the other hand, expressed suspicions over the authenticity of the documents that showed the Makati City government was used.
“We challenge the authenticity of these documents that purportedly date back to the ’90s, especially since it comes from a polluted source,” said Binay spokesman Joey Salgado.
With report from Cyra Moraleda