Philippine vice president Binay and son face graft indictment

Philippine vice president Binay and son face graft indictment
Vice President Jejomar Binay (left), his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay (right) and 23 others face plunder case over the alleged "unconscionable overpricing" in the construction of an 11-story parking building (inset) that the city government supposedly built for P1.56 billion

A special panel of investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman has found probable cause to indict Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and 22 others, including the owner of building contractor Hilmarc's Corp. for various criminal offences in connection with the allegedly overpriced P2.2-billion (S$65.6 million) Makati parking building.

"[The] Makati parking building is a clear instance of diversion of people's money and putting it in the hands of private contractors," the special panel said in its findings in their investigation into the alleged irregularities in the design and construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, the official name of the parking building.

"There is probable cause to indict the Vice President, his son and other respondents for the crimes and offences charged in the complaint filed on March 5, 2015," the panel said in their findings dated May 4.

The findings were contained in the panel's consolidated reply to the counteraffidavits of the respondents.

14 offences

According to the panel, the Vice President committed 14 offences while he was the mayor of Makati in connection with the construction of the parking building and his son, the incumbent mayor, 15 offences.

It enumerated the Vice President's specific participation as the following: In 2007, he approved the request to enter into a negotiated procurement instead of the regular bidding of the building's architectural design; signed the bids and awards committee (BAC) resolution and contract also in 2007 awarding the architectural and engineering services contract to Mana (MANA Architecture and Interior Design Co.); and approved the disbursement vouchers for the contract.

It said the senior Binay also signed the BAC resolutions, awards of contracts, programme of work and cost estimates, and approved the release of the money for Phases 1 and 2 of the parking building during his term as mayor of Makati.

P2.2B worth of public funds

"With the foregoing acts, respondents public officials cannot deny knowledge of and participation in the procurement of the design and the construction and release of public funds amounting to more than P2.2 billion for the Makati parking building which is tainted with irregularities," the panel said.

"The individual participation of respondents is clear. Each of them contributed in the processes leading to the release of more than P2.2 billion worth of public funds despite the irregularities," it said.

The panel said it was reiterating the criminal and administrative charges in the complaint it filed in the Office of the Ombudsman last March 5 against former and present public officials of Makati City and private contractors, Orlando M. Mateo of Mana and Efren M. Canlas of Hilmarc's.

In the March 5 complaint, the panel had recommended the suspension of the younger Binay. Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the six-month preventive suspension of the Makati mayor and 21 other City Hall officials, but the Court of Appeals granted the mayor a 60-day reprieve.

The panel also accused the Binays and the other respondents of malversation, falsification and violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and the Government Procurement Reform Act.

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