MANILA – The complainant in the plunder case against Vice-President Jejomar Binay, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and other Makati officials admitted Tuesday that he was only guessing when he said the cakes distributed by the local government to senior citizens are worth P1,000 each.
During the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall Building II, Senator Vicente Sotto III asked lawyer Renato Bondal Jr. what was the latter's basis for saying that the cakes being given to the city's senior citizens cost at least P1,000 each.
Bondal did not immediately answer the question. Instead, he complained that the city government has been blocking access to documents pertaining to the purchase of the cakes.
Pressed by Sotto to answer his question, Bondal said, ''Ayun po ay hula lang namin. (That was just our guess)."
''Gaya ng sinabi ni Solita Monsod sa kanyang article, na according to her grapevine, P750 to P800 ito 4 years ago,'' Bondal added.
Sotto immediately cut in on Bondal, saying: ''Okay na ho sa akin ang sagot niyo. Hula lang pala eh."
During last week's hearing, Bondal claimed that the cake being given to Makati senior citizens during birthdays cost P1,000 each.
The allegation of cake overpricing was not discussed at length last week, however, after Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who chairs the sub-committee holding the Senate probe, insisted that the hearing must stick to the building issue.
Vice President Binay and Mayor Binay are facing a plunder case over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II.
The Makati City government already refuted Bondal's allegation, saying the true current price of each cake is P306.75.
During the hearing, Makati City administrator Eleno Mendoza explained that the cake was priced at P180 from 2011 to October 2013.
The price was raised to P305 in November 2013 due to an increase in the cake's size.
Nancy DENIES SUPPLYING CAKES
Former Makati Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado, who was also present in the hearing, said he has been questioning the cake distribution when he was still in office and that there remains no answer until now.
He claimed the senator used to handle the project.
"May makakasagot niyan dahil si Senator Binay po ay lagi namang sinasabi na siya ay technical assistant ng mommy niya. Eh siya ho ang puwede makasagot nito. Ilan ba yung cake? Magkano ang cake at ilan ba ang dine-deliver-an ng cake," he said.
In a statement, Sen. Binay denied Mercado's allegation, saying she does not even know how to bake.
''I deny in the strongest terms possible and condemn the malicious claim of former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that I have economic or financial interest in the supply of cakes for senior citizens at the Makati City Hall,'' she said.
''I have never been involved, and will never be involved in any activity that violates rules on conflict of interests particularly in businesses relating to the Makati City government and/or the national government."
Sen. Binay also lambasted Mercado for turning his back on her family.
''Pinagkatiwalaan ng aking ama si dating Vice Mayor Mercado. Tinrato siya na parang kapatid. Ang sinukli ni Mr. Mercado ay ang abusuhin ang tiwala ng aking ama,'' she said.
''We can see here na ako na po ang next family member on their demolition list."