MANILA -- Vice President Jejomar Binay downplayed Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s plans to place under the Witness Protection Program (WPP) former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado.
“That’s just additional mileage for them,” Binay told reporters on the sidelines of his visit at the DSWD Center in Alabang, Muntinlupa.
The Vice President said he finds it “abnormal” that Mercado, who immediately admitted to receiving kickbacks from the allegedly overpriced Makati parking and office building, would be placed in the WPP.
Trillanes initiated the probe against the Binays following a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal at the Office of the Ombudsman.
In one of the hearings, Mercado admitted to receiving kickbacks from the project and said Binay may have received a commission as well.
In a subsequent press conference, Binay said he won’t be shocked anymore if in the next few days, documents meant to link him to corruption will also emerge.
“I won’t be shocked if someone cries ‘ambush me’ and points to me as the culprit,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said the Senate committee has not produced until now any concrete proof of alleged overpricing.
Remulla, who was appointed last week as Binay’s spokesman, said: “The witnesses they presented to supposedly prove that Building 2 is overpriced turned out to be duds. For one, the data they cited from the National Statistics Office were based on the building permit applications and not the actual construction cost.”
“Even the expert they invited gave a market appraisal value of a hypothetical building. How do compare a hypothetical, non-existent building to one that has already been built? And in the first place, is that even a fair comparison?” Remulla added.
He also slammed Trillanes for blocking the testimony of Hilmarc’s Construction, the building’s contractor.
“I thought they wanted to get to the bottom of the truth? Why then did Senator Trillanes threaten to include the contractor in the plunder charge? To prevent him from confirming that there was no overprice? Or was it to prevent the contractor from saying they also contracted projects of their allies from Taguig?” Remulla asked.