Contractor of Makati building could face raps too

By Dharel Placido,

Posted at Aug 21 2014 02:06 PM | Updated as of Aug 22 2014 06:26 PM

MANILA – Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the contractor of the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 should be charged with plunder as well.

Trillanes said he will recommend that Efren Canlas, president of Hilmarc's Construction Corp., and other officials of the firm be charged over the alleged overpricing of the building.

''That's what we intend to do. We are going to grill Mr. Canlas about his contracts with Makati, his tax records, corporate records. We are very sure we will find something. In fact right now I am going to encourage Atty. [Renato] Bondal to include Mr. Efren Canlas and senior officials of Hilmarc's to include them in the plunder case,'' Trillanes told ANC.

During a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on Wednesday, Commission on Audit (COA) chairperson Grace Pulido-Tan said the bidding out of a project in several phases, just like what happened in the Makati City Hall Building 2 project, is a red flag.

The P2.2 billion Makati building is now the subject of a plunder complaint against Vice President Jejomar Binay, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and several Makati officials.

Tan noted that aside from the bidding out of the project in five phases, there was also one bidder in all of the contracts – Hilmarc's Construction Corp.

Tan, however, said there is no final report yet from the COA on the matter.

“I don’t wish to prejudge, but there are matters we have to look into intensively,” she said. She noted that the procurement of the first of five phases was done in less than two and a half months.

“If it’s because of efficiency, it’s really commendable. But if it’s a contract of this magnitude and complexity, it will take six months to a year,” she added.

Trillanes: Binay's defense weak

In the same ANC interview, Trillanes said Mayor Binay's defense for the price of the building is weak.

Mayor Binay said the building was priced that way because it is a ''green building'' and considered a "world-class" structure.

However, Trillanes said it was only Binay, and not an accredited body, who declared the building to be ''green."

''I asked Mayor Junjun why did he say it is a green building. He said it is their own version of a green building,'' Trillanes said.

''I asked him what specific things [were done] to this building that raised its value, he didn't say anything. He could not say anything."

Trillanes also shot down Mayor Binay's claim that the building was priced more than the usual due to the soil quality of the land where it was built.

''His defense for that is the pilings, the foundation, because it is soft soil. But based on records, they only spent P80 million for the foundation. So they can't use that defense,'' he said.