MANILA (UPDATED) - Former Makati vice-mayor Ernesto Mercado is challenging his former boss, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, to face him in a public forum to prove who is lying and who is telling the truth.
In a statement, Mercado said he is ready to face Binay in a public forum, whether it is in the Senate or elsewhere.
"Hinahamon ko si Vice President Jejomar Binay na magharap-harap na lang kami sa Senado para malaman ng taong bayan kung sino ang nagsisinungaling at sino ang nagsasabi ng totoo," he said.
He added: "Kung ayaw ni Vice President Binay na humarap sa Senado, hinahamon ko siya sa kahit saang entablado o public forum, kahit kailan, para malaman na ng bayan ang katotohanan."
Mercado confirmed reports that he is out of the country. He said he is willing to cut short his vacation and return to the Philippines if Binay accepts his challenge.
In response, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay's spokesman for political affairs, said the Vice-President would rather focus on his work "than debate with liars, perjurers, and paid hacks of the desperate opposition to the Vice President."
The former vice-mayor said he is willing to answer all accusations being leveled against him including his alleged ownership of a Peak Tower condo unit as well as a resort in Palawan.
"Handa kong sagutin ang lahat ng mga paratang o isyu na ibinabato sa akin ni VP Binay at ng kanyang mga kaalyado at sana ay handa din siyang harapin ako sa harap ng taong bayan at sagutin ang mga isyu tungkol sa kanya," he said.
Mercado has accused Binay of various corruption allegations including pocketing kickbacks for the construction of buildings in Makati.
He also claimed Binay owns a 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas, which he said is under the names of various dummies.
Recently, he accused Binay of owning several condo units in Makati - which he said was used as payment by property developers to speed up the issuance of building and occupancy permits and delay in tax collections.
Binay has denied all the allegations but has decided not to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hearings, saying the inquiry is too politicized.