MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Audit (COA) Chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan assured Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday that the ongoing audit being conducted into one of his projects while still Makati mayor is not politically-motivated.
Tan denied that the agency is involved in a demolition campaign behind Binay, adding that the audit was conducted as the agency’s response to a letter submitted by “concerned employees of Makati City” last April.
“I just want to assure the vice president that there is no demolition job. We are not politically-motivated, trabaho llang ito na dumating sa amin na kailangang tugonan. Mandato namin ang mag-audit at tignan ‘yung mga nirereklamo ng taongbayan,” Tan told ANC’s “Prime Time” on Wednesday.
An audit is being conducted into the Makati Friendship Suites, a condotel project initiated by Binay when he was still mayor.
Binay believes the timing of the audit is suspect because of his high survey ratings and his intention to run in the 2016 presidential elections.
“Noong isang taon pa, bago magkaroon ng impeachment ang bali-balita ay si Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, si Chief Justice Renato Corona, tapos ako na. ‘Yun ay bali-balita,” Binay said.
Tan, however, dismissed the speculations, saying the COA is merely doing a “routine” audit.
“There was no special task force that was formed, ako lang naman ang nagcre-create ng special task force. I did not create any special task force and I did not also ask any of our commissioners to create a task force [to conduct the audit],” Tan explained.
“As far as timing is concerned, hindi naman namin napipili ‘yung timing. The letter was received April, so actually medyo matagal na nga,” she added.
Palace denies hand in COA report; Binay agrees
Malacañang, meanwhile, has denied that it had a hand in the COA report.
“I can very categorically say that the administration is not involved. Number two, I don't think the vice president was imputing bad faith or involvement of the administration with respect to that audit. Again, that audit was conducted by a constitutional office which is separate and independent form the Executive branch," Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said.
Lacierda added that the COA is obligated to keep any audit politically-insulated.
Binay also believes the Palace had no hand in the COA probe, and that COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza has an ax to grind against him.
"I'm sure hindi yan alam ng Palasyo pero meron lang uncontrollable elements tulad ni COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza. Noon pa yan galit sa Makati," he said.
Binay suspects politics is behind the ongoing COA audit led by Mendoza, adding the project was already cleared by Makati resident auditors and a task force from the COA central office.
"Panahon pa ni Mrs. Arroyo...Nung mga pagkakataon na yon, galit ni Mrs. Arroyo sa amin kaya ang daming pina-iimbestiga. Isa yan sa mga iniimbestiga sa amin. Walang nangyari, na-clear kami. Rehashed yang mga akusasyong iyan."
He also revealed he has received reports that he will be gone by December because of a demolition job against him.
"Ang sasabihin ko lang sa inyo, talagang may dumadating sa akin (na impormasyon). Iyang demolition, sa Disyembre mawawala na daw ako, hindi ko alam kung anong ibig sabihin ng mawawala," he said.
Binay is ready to face any investigation, and he is confident that the project will eventually be cleared again. -- with a report from Jing Castañeda, ABS-CBN News