MANILA - The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay slammed the inclusion of former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and two complainants in the plunder raps against him in the government's Witness Protection Program (WPP).
It was the Senate that requested that Mercado, Atty. Renato Bondal, and Nicolas Enciso VI be placed under the WPP in light of the information they possess about the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
According to Binay's spokesman for political affairs Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, they "find it highly deplorable" that the Senate used its authority to place the vice president's detractors "with questionable morals and dubious reliability" into the WPP.
Remulla pointed out that Bondal himself admitted during a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that he was only guessing when he said that the cakes distributed by the local government of Makati to senior citizens are worth P1,000 each.
"Nanghula lang siya. For this, Filipino taxpayers are paying for his 'protection,'" Remulla said.
Mercado, meanwhile, still has not provided evidence to support his allegations that Binay received kickbacks worth 13 percent of the cost of every project in Makati, including the 11-storey office and parking building, he said.
"He has also changed his testimony twice. In his first appearance, Mercado replied 'most likely' or 'malamang' when asked if the Vice President earned from the project. But on his second appearance, he changed his tune. He even produced bags as props. But props in a Senate kangaroo court will not be considered evidence in a court of law," Remulla added.
The governor said what is clear is that Mercado admitted to receiving kickbacks himself.
"We find it highly improbable if such an admission will qualify Mercado as not being the most guilty. Yet, taxpayers are also paying for his 'protection.'"
Remulla also said the Department of Justice (DOJ) should not allow Mercado to abuse the privileges of being under the WPP, claiming that the former vice mayor has a gambling habit.
"This will be the ultimate disservice to the WPP and a total waste of taxpayers' money all to advance the political demolition agenda of
two senators," he said.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV was the one who filed a resolution seeking a probe into the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.
Meanwhile, the family of Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who has also criticized the vice president, is a political rival of the Binays.
The Cayetano and Binay strongholds, Taguig and Makati cities, respectively, are battling for control of financially lucrative Fort Bonifacio.