Vice President Jejomar Binay faces the media at the Coconut Palace to answers accusations being hurled against him and his family. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
Mercado was 'little mayor' who monitored Makati projects - Binay
Mercado failed to follow 'script' - Binay
MANILA - Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday said former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado was promised a government project in exchange for maligning him and linking him to alleged irregularities in the Makati City Hall Building Two project.
In a press conference, Binay said: "[Mercado] allowed himself to be used in order to get a government project or commission."
Asked to explain further, he said Mercado already knows what he is talking about. “The important thing is you know that there is a motive."
He also said he believes Mercado will be fielded as a candidate by another political party in the upcoming elections.
Mercado yesterday admitted to receiving kickbacks from the allegedly overpriced Makati parking and office building.
He alleged Binay may have also received commissions.
Binay, his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and other Makati officials are facing a plunder complaint over the alleged overpricing of the P2.2 billion infrastructure project.
Binay said Mercado is part of a bigger group out to malign his name and that of his family amid his strong showing in surveys.
He said the issue cropped up because another survey is being done.
Asked if he sees the hand of Malacanang in all these, he said: “On the part of the President, I don’t want to speculate. On the part of the party, they’re all allies [Mercado, Renato Bondal]. I don’t want to say it’s the Liberal Party, because there’s a group that wants to smear my name.”
ONE TERM ONLY
Binay admitted there have already been talk of Mercado receiving kickbacks in several projects in Makati while the latter was vice-mayor. He said he chose to trust Mercado despite the rumors.
"I put my full trust in him. In fact, he was a ‘working little mayor.’ That was why I was sad that he received kickbacks, and happy because he admitted to his wrongdoing,” he added.
As little mayor, Mercado followed up on projects with contractors, looked for a budget and went to the treasurer, Binay said. "He’s always there," he added.
He said his relationship turned sour when Mercado was promised only one term as mayor of Makati if he ran in the 2010 polls. Mercado subsequently refused to accept Binay’s son, Junjun, as running mate.
"Ang usapan kasi isang term ka lang. At ayaw niyang maging vice-mayor si Junjun kaya ho kami nabigla," Binay said.
Binay said Mercado's loss in the 2010 elections affected the former vice-mayor's finances.
"Wala na siyang dilihensya. Kung wala na siyang dilihensya, nagbago na po ang rangya ng kanyang pamumuhay. Rangya ng kanyang pagsusugal at bisyo ng kanyang pamumuhay," he said.
He added that he will leave Mercado's fate to God.
"He had a script, he was supposed to directly accuse me of receiving kickbacks. By the mercy of God, it ended up as mere speculation," he added.
MAKATI SAVED MONEY IN BUILDING PROJECT
The vice president reiterated that he did not receive any kickbacks from the building project nor any Makati projects, including the cakes given to senior citizens.
He said resident and technical auditors run through the documents of the building project ten times, and found no irregularities.
He believes the special audit that will be initiated by the Commission on Audit will result in the same.
"How can you overturn previous findings that there was no irregularity? In cases, the best evidence is the document. COA should just focus on finishing the pork barrel issue," he said.
He added the price of the building at P2.2 billion was much lower than the estimate of P2.4 billion. He said several ordinances allowed a funding of P2.7 billion, which meant the city generated savings.
He said the value of the building should be compared to other government projects.
Binay noted the Davis, Langdon, and Seah handbook that some senators are trumpeting to prove overpricing even issued a disclaimer. “All buildings are assumed to have no basement except otherwise stated, and are built on flat ground, with normal soil conditions and minimal external wall. The cost excludes land costs, professional fees, financial, and legal expenses.”
He said the project cost for the Makati building included all those.
Binay also debunked insinuations that Makati chose only one contractor for all projects, Hillmarc’s Construction Corp.
“It does not mean that if the company won all projects, there were no bidding processes involved. There was a process in awarding the contracts,” he said.
He added Hillmarc, a respected company, was also the contractor for several government projects in Iloilo and Taguig.