MANILA - Senator Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito believes a Senate probe on United Nationalist Alliance stalwart Jejomar Binay will give the Vice-President a chance to air his side on allegations of an overpriced building in Makati.
Ejercito said he will join the probe and will not hesitate to ask tough questions to his party-mate.
"All public officials should practice transparency at all times so if you ask me whether or not he should be investigated, I guess, as public officials we have nothing to hide and we all should just go through the process to prove innocence," he said.
"I'll be helping them in a way by asking tough questions that would help and give them the chance to clear their names," he added.
Binay and his son, current Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, are being dragged into the controversy after reportedly spending over P2 billion for a new building at the Makati City Hall.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is calling for a blue ribbon committee investigation into the alleged overpricing in the construction of the parking building, which is the subject of a plunder case filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay and Makati Mayor Jun-jun Binay.
Ejercito, however, said the amount may be justifiable given that it was a high-rise structure.
"Probably because of the prevailing prices right now, probably because it is on the high end but because of the cost of construction right now and cost of materials, everything, it may just reach the P2.4 billion mark," he said.
"It is on the high side but we need to see the materials, the plans and how well the building is made. We just need to look into that," he added.
Makati resident auditor Cecilia Caga-anan earlier said the "contract cost of Makati City Parking Building was considered reasonable..."
In the plunder complaint filed last month, lawyer Renato Bondal claimed the building is "the most expensive parking building in the entire country." He cited a 2007 data from the National Statistics Office (NSO) showing that the average construction cost of a commercial building is P8,193 per square meter.
Bondal said the "parking building" in Makati cost around P60,000 per square meter.
Caga-anan, upon consulting the technical audit specialists, said the statistical data from the NSO were merely based on approved building standards and documentary requirements without the construction costs.
“Construction costs of buildings vary depending on its design and type of building… Structures with parking areas require different design as compared to common/regular building which is subjected to heavier and moving loads. In addition to, the building is designed to withstand earthquake with certain level of intensity,” she said.
A prime example, she noted, is the Makati City Hall Building itself.
“Based on available data gathered, the soil structure was found soft, and hard strata at this area was reached from 13 meters to 15 meters elevation from the ground.”