MANILA - Like protégés of Madam Auring. This is how a spokesman of Vice-President Jejomar Binay described experts who examined the Makati City Hall Building 2 and called it ordinary.
In a statement, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, the Vice Presidential Spokesman for Political Concerns, said two resource persons who examined the building during Monday's ocular inspection gave biased assessments that still did not prove the claim of overpricing.
He described the two resource persons - quantity surveyor Greg Jackson and architect Danilo Alano - as "hula-hula experts" or experts in guesswork.
"Without even seeing the as-built plans, blueprints, bill of materials, or mechanical and electrical plans, these so-called experts made a conclusion which can only be described as guesswork or hula-hula," Remulla said.
"This is the best they can come up with. 'Hula-hula' witnesses who could very well be protégés of Madam Auring," he added.
Remulla said the proper procedure to examine possible overpricing is to compare the as-built plans.
He noted that the issue "is not whether the materials used were standard or not, but whether they were overpriced."
Vice President Jejomar Binay and other Makati officials are facing a plunder complaint before the Ombudsman over the alleged overpricing of the P2.2 billion project.
On Monday, a Senate sub-committee of the blue ribbon chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. conducted an ocular inspection of the allegedly overpriced building.
Pimentel was accompanied by fellow Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, along with an independent quantity surveyor, engineers, architects, Makati City officials, as well as engineers from the Department of Public Works and Highways.
Greg Jackson, an Australian independent quantity surveyor, called the building ordinary, standard and not world-class.
"It’s a modern building of average standard, but I wouldn't consider it to be world-class standard," he told reporters
This was echoed by appraiser Federico Cuervo and architect Danilo Alano, who both said that the materials used were just ordinary.
"Normal lang yan. OK lang yan," said Alano.
The group noted that the building used linoleum instead of tile flooring and drywalls instead of concrete walls.
The building also had two small elevators.
Remulla, meanwhile, questioned why the Senate sub-committee did not call the Philippine Construction Association representative to give his own assessment of the building.
He said Senator Antonio Trillanes IV talked to the PCA representative after the ocular "and afterwards, he was nowhere in sight."
"We hope Trillanes did not intimidate the man, which he seems to be fond of doing," he said.
Remulla said in an interview with reporters, Lito Madrasto, the executive director of PCA, said the cassette type air conditioners used in the upper floors of Building 2 were more expensive than standard floor standing or wall type air conditioners.
He said Madrasto further said that at the time the construction of Building 2 was started, prices of building materials were skyrocketing.
"Steel prices went up. Cement prices went up. Everything was going up," Madrasto said, adding that to render a fair assessment, they would need to review the as-built plans.
Remulla said that at the end of the day, it is still up to the court to determine if there was overpricing and criminal liability in the building project.