Ombudsman upholds graft raps vs. Binays, 22 others for Php 2.2-B Makati carpark project

By , on February 5, 2016

Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.  (Photo courtesy of DGR Law Offices.)
Office of the Ombudsman in Quezon City.
(Photo courtesy of DGR Law Offices.)

MANILA—Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has ordered the immediate filing of multiple charges for violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019, or the “Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act”, malversation and falsification of public documents against dismissed Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin“Jun-Jun” Binay, Jr. and 22 other Makati city officials and employees.

This after the Ombudsman dismissed the respective motions for reconsideration (MRs) filed by the 23 respondents.

In three separate joint orders approved on Feb. 3, 2016 and released on Friday, Morales also upheld the finding of probable cause against Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, Sr. and Binay, Jr. for four counts of violation of Section 3 (e) of RA No. 3019, six counts of falsification of public documents and one count each for malversation for their involvement in the various phases of the construction of the Php 2.2-billion Makati carpark project from 2007 to 2013.

Morales also ordered the filing of criminal charges against Binay’s co-respondents, namely: Marjorie De Veyra, Pio Kenneth Dasal, Lorenza Amores, Virginia Hernandez, Line Dela Peña, Mario Badillo, Leonila Querijero, Raydes Pestaño, Nelia Barlis, Cecilio Lim III, Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat, Connie Consulta, Ulysses Orienza, Giovanni Condes, Manolito Uyaco, Norman Flores, Gerardo San Gabriel, Eleno Mendoza, Jr., and Rodel Nayve.

Also included in the indictment are Orlando Mateo from Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. (MANA) and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s Construction Company (Hilmarc’s).

The charges against Binay, Sr. will be filed after the expiration of his term as Vice President consistent with the principle that an impeachable officer, while in office, cannot be the subject of a criminal indictment in court, for an offense which carries the penalty of removal from office.

In its joint orders, the Ombudsman made it clear that the Ombudsman’s “authority to investigate Binay, Sr. is in accordance with the Constitution, law and jurisprudence.”

The joint orders said that the heads of offices are required “to exercise necessary diligence in making sure that proper formalities in a transaction are observed.”

The construction of the Php 2.2-billion Makati carpark project was completed in five phases plus one design phase, which periods spanned through the terms as of Vice President Binay to Jun-Jun Binay as mayors.

No public bidding was conducted by Binay, Sr., et. al. prior to engaging the services of MANA as project designer.

The evidence show that the procurement process was manipulated to ensure the award of the contract to MANA; and that four payments totaling to Php 11.97 million were processed and approved despite the incomplete submission of deliverables such as design plans, working drawings and technical specifications.

The Ombudsman said that “the purported negotiation and evaluation of bid proposals in November 2007 was conducted with extraordinary speed” as “for one hour only, the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) completed the entire negotiation proceedings where bid proposals of seven architectural firms that allegedly participated in this multi-million project were opened and evaluated.”

Even the Commission on Audit (COA) Fraud Audit Office’s Initial Evaluation Report noted that “the negotiated procurement adopted by the BAC was improper.”

Investigation found that city officials colluded with Hilmarc’s to manipulate the outcome of the five “public biddings” for the purpose of ensuring that Hilmarc’s would be awarded the contracts.

The construction projects were awarded to Hilmarc’s despite the lack of the required publication of the invitations to bid, with Hilmarc’s as the lone bidder in four phases of the project.

The construction of the car park building began even in the absence of approved design standards, contract plans, agency cost estimates, detailed engineering and programs of work.

No pre-procurement conference was undertaken and bid documents were made available only for one day in violation of procurement rules and regulations.

Aside from the criminal indictment, the Ombudsman also upheld the dismissal from the service of Mayor Jun-Jun Binay and his perpetual disqualification from public service.

In October 2015, the Ombudsman found Binay, Jr. guilty of grave misconduct and serious dishonesty.

Morales said that the strong evidence presented during administrative adjudication remained unrebutted.