MANILA — Controversial Senate witness, former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, should do a Ruby Tuason and return to the National Treasury whatever kickbacks he unlawfully amassed from government projects, House Deputy Majority Leader and Makati City Rep. Mar-Len Abigail Binay said Thursday.
“Since Mr. Mercado has already confessed under oath to collecting bribes, he should now proceed to specify the exact amounts that he received as kickbacks while he was vice mayor of Makati, and surrender the money to the government,” Binay said.
The daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay said in the case of Tuason, a whistleblower in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam, she had returned some Php 40 million to the National Treasury.
“The kickbacks that Mr. Mercado accumulated clearly constitute unjust enrichment, and based on the legal principle of gains-based recovery, he is now obligated to provide restitution,” Binay, a lawyer by profession said.
If necessary, Binay said Mercado should sell some of his properties here and abroad, so that he may be able to provide restitution.
“In Ms. Tuason’s case, the Ombudsman approved her request to be a state witness only after she gave back the Php 40-million in commissions that she squirreled away from the PDAF releases, and only after her testimony was found to be necessary for future prosecution,” Binay said.
Tuason surrendered the Php 40 million in a check payable to the Republic of the Philippines, not long after she went to the United States to raise the money.
Tuason, a socialite, had admitted in a sworn statement that millions of pesos in PDAF scam kickbacks meant for senators were coursed through her by Janet Napoles, the accused mastermind.
In a previous Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing, Mercado admitted that he received a payoff in connection with the alleged overpriced Makati car park building.
Mercado also owned up to taking an Php 80-million payoff for his participation in the rigged public bidding of several public projects.
Mercado ran for Makati mayor in 2010 elections, but lost to Vice President Binay’s son, Junjun.
Mercado belongs to the Nacionalista Party (NP), just like Senators Antonio Trillanes and Alan Peter Cayetano, the tandem spearheading the Senate inquiry into the Makati car park building.
Both Trillanes and Cayetano have also declared their intention to run for president in 2016 against Binay.