Ombudsman probers recommend graft charges against Binay

By , on June 23, 2015

Office of the Ombudsman facade (Wikipedia photo)
Office of the Ombudsman facade (Wikipedia photo)

MANILA – After the preliminary investigations on the alleged manipulation of the bidding for the construction of the Makati City High School building, probers from the Office of the Ombudsman recommended filing of graft charges against Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay.

The five-member team of investigators filed the complaint affidavit on June 8.

Special panel chair Adoracion A. Agbada then reportedly ordered Binay to reply to the charges.

According to a copy of the 26-page document obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, ‘the field investigation office files this complaint against the following for committing, in conspiracy with one another, the following criminal and administrative offenses.’

Ombudsman spokesperson Rawnsie Lopez, however, had not yet released an official statement on the charges including ‘violation of antigraft and corrupt practices laws, falsification of public documents, violation of code and ethical standards for public officials, violation of the procurement act, dishonesty and grave misconduct.’

‘The aforesaid offenses were committed during the procurement, bid and award of the contracts for the architectural and engineering services and the six contracts for the construction of the 10-story Makati Science High School.’

The probers then sought for a ‘6-month preventive suspension’ of Vice President Binay’s son Makati City Mayor Erwin “Junjun” Binay and other Makati City hall officials linked in the rigging namely, Lorenza Amores, Mario Badillio, Nelia Argana Barlis, Giovanni Condes, Pio Kenneth Ilano Dasal, Marjorie de Veyra, Norman Flores, Ralph Liberato, Cecilio Lim III, Eleno Mendoza Jr., Rodel Nayve, Raydes Pestano, Ulysses Orienza, Leonila Querijero, Julius Ramos, Gerardo San Gabriel and Manolito Uyaco while the investigation is still going on.

It was also recommended that Vice President Binay be investigated upon.

The investigators said the ‘bid and award of the contract for the construction, architectural and engineering services for Makati Science High School were rigged and prearranged to favor Hilmarc’s Corp., owned by Efren Canlas, and Infiniti, owned by Virginia Garcia’ purportedly on orders of Vice President Binay who was Makati Mayor at that time.

Hilmarc’s construction cost amounted to P1.33 billion and its design cost P17.45 million. The construction of the school started on Vice President Binay’s mayoral term.

The probers also pointed out that ‘like any other big project in the City of Makati, Binay Sr. directed Nelson Morales, city engineer, to award in favor of the preselected bidder.’

They said the city officials prepared a list of supposed competitors, falsified their documents and forged their signatures to make it appear like they participated in the bogus bidding.

Mayor Binay’s lawyer, Atty. Claro Certeza, for their part, claimed that there was no verifiable truth to the statements of the probers.

“Ang batayan ng bagong complaint kay Mayor Binay ay ang sinabi daw diumano ni Engr. Morales na inutos daw ni VP Binay na ayusin ang bidding para sa Makati Science upang paboran ang isang contractor. Ang ebidensiyang ito ay hearsay at hindi tinatanggap sa husgado. Dahil patay na si Morales, walang pagkakataon na harapin siya at suriin kung totoo itong alegasyon na ito. Maliwanag na kasinungalingan ang sinasabing bid rigging at ginagamit nila ang isang tao na patay na upang maging isang source para hindi ito ma-verify,” Certeza said in an ABS-CBN News report.

(The basis of the new complaint on Mayor Binay is an alleged statement of Engr. Morales saying that VP Binay ordered the manipulation of the bidding on Makati Science to favor a contractor. This evidence is hearsay and is not acceptable in the court. Because Morales has already departed, there’s no more opportunity to face him and find out if the said allegation is true. It’s clear that the purported bid rigging is a lie and they are using a departed person as a source so that it cannot be verified.)

However, representatives from the supposed companies involved in the bidding, testified that they did not participate in the bidding process. Thus, their documents were indeed faked and their signatures forged.

Furthermore, tabloid Balita denied publishing any notice to bid for the construction of the high school building, contrary to what was stated in the minutes of the city’s bids and awards committee.

Prior the school building, Vice President Binay had also been questioned regarding the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, wherein another team of investigators also from the Office of the Ombudsman found various criminal and administrative offenses he, his son and 22 others committed.