MANILA — Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Wednesday urged former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado to donate the 4.5 hectares portion of the so-called “Hacienda Binay” estate in Rosario, Batangas that is registered under his name.
Mercado has claimed in previous Senate inquiry into the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Vice President Jejomar Binay that he was given a 4.5 hectare land by then Makati mayor Binay when they were still political allies.
“He has everything to gain and nothing to lose by giving the land to the government,” Pimentel said in a press statement.
Pimentel said Mercado, star witness in the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee that he chairs investigating into alleged kickbacks by Binay from controversial Makati City deals, could give the land to the Department of Agrarian Reform for distribution to landless farmers.
”He could also donate the property to the municipal government of Rosario in Batangas for the use of the local government unit where the alleged estate of the vice president, estimated at 145 hectares or 350 hectares, is located,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said such a goodwill on the part of the crusading former Makati vice mayor would surely go a long way in helping the needy persons, especially subsistence farmers who have yet to own a piece of land despite years of toiling in the field owned by rich landlords.
Mercado told the recent Senate inquiry, that began with the alleged overpriced Makati City Building II, that while the property is in his name, he did not pay for it, but merely signed the deed of sale for the property upon the instructions then of the Makati City mayor.
He alleged that Binay used him as one of his dummies to hide his ill-gotten wealth.