MANILA - A spokesman of Vice-President Jejomar Binay described as a "kangaroo court" yesterday's Senate hearing after a former Makati official accused Binay of corruption without presenting any evidence.
Cavite Governor and vice presidential spokesman for political concerns Jonvic Remulla said engineer Mario Hechanova did not give concrete proof or evidence to back his claims that the bidding for the Makati City Hall building 2 was rigged.
"Hechanova was given the widest leeway to malign the name of the Vice President without any evidence. The words of a former city official who admitted rigging bids were taken as gospel truth by Senators Antonio Trillanes and Alan Cayetano and milked for whatever ounce of opportunity to malign the name of the Vice President," he said in a statement.
In an earlier interview, Remulla also said Hechanova has links to former Makati Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado who has also testified against Binay.
The spokesman said Mercado hired Hechanova to become the head of the general services office of Makati in charge of procurements.
"Tao ni Mercado. We discovered that they put up a company called Twin Leaf Marketing, which cornered all the supply contracts of Makati. At that time, the de factor mayor was Mercado and the GSO was Hechanova and they did all the biddings and they did all the business," he said in an ANC interview.
He also said it was later discovered that Mercado "owned Twin Leaf."
"He bought the company. He was always part of it. There are documents to prove it. Eventually they found the collusion and they fired him. And then the vice-mayor ran for mayor and he lost," he said.
"[Binay] fired Hechanova after he discovered the collusion in the bidding process," he added.
In his testimony, Hechanova, the former head of Makati City's general services department and vice chairman of the bids and awards committee, claimed he was ordered by then-city Engineer Nelson Morales to rig the bidding for the project.
He said Morales was relaying the instructions of then Mayor and now Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
To rig the bidding, he said the favored contractor, Hilmarc's Construction Corp, was instructed to submit bidding documents even before the actual bidding so that they could check the completeness of their papers.
He said the bids and awards committee also got the competitors for the project to make sure that Hillmarc's would bag the deal.
"Kami ang kumuha ng magiging kalaban nila. Kami ang kumuha ng documents at sinigurado namin na mas mataas ang bid nila sa bids ng Hillmarc...Kalakaran na ho sa amin sa Makati yan," he said.
Hechanova said he did not get kickbacks from any of the deals but was paid P200,000 allowance monthly as a member of the BAC.
He also denied bagging any supply contract for Makati.
He also said he quit in 2009 after 19 years as a Makati City employee after Binay did not honor an agreement to support then Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado in his mayoral bid for 2010.
Binay fielded his own son, Junjun, to run for mayor during the 2010 polls. Binay won the vice-presidential race in the same year.
Meanwhile, Remulla also said the Senate should look deeper into the conduct of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV after the senator acknowledged that at the sidelines of a prior hearing, he had warned the representative of the building contractor.
"Witnesses are supposed to be free from interference or improper influence through warnings, veiled threats, intimidation, or promises of inducement, especially from senators conducting the investigation," Remulla said.
"Everything that Senator Trillanes said to the witness could have easily been said in open hearing. Yet, he chose to say it to the witness in seclusion, so he intended his message to be a veiled threat. It does not even matter whether the witness felt threatened or not," he said.
He said witness tampering within proceedings, including congressional and administrative inquiries, is a serious breach.