Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr. Photo by Jonathan Cellona for ABS-CBNnews.com
It's also an attack on VP Binay, says Junjun's lawyer
MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal from service of suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr. in connection with his administrative case on the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said she ordered the dismissal of Binay for "grave misconduct and dishonesty."
Morales also ordered Binay's perpetual disqualification from public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
The decision of the Ombudsman is immediately executory, she said. The Binay camp has reportedly received the order.
According to Morales, there were "irregularities" in the services and contract for the construction of several phases of the parking building from 2007 to 2013.
In its 103-page joint decision on 6 docketed complaints, the Ombudsman said "flagrant anomalies were found to have been committed by Binay, Jr. et. al. in the design and construction of the building consisting of 6 phases."
Aside from Binay, the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal from service of his co-respondents, namely: Marjorie De Veyra, Pio Kenneth Dasal, Lorenza Amores, Virginia Hernandez, Line Dela Peña, Mario Badillo, Leonila Querijero, Raydes Pestaño, Nelia Barlis, Cecilio Lim III, Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat, Connie Consulta, Ulysses Orienza, Giovanni Condes, Manolito Uyaco, Gerardo San Gabriel, Eleno Mendoza Jr., and Rodel Nayve.
The Ombudsman earlier ordered a 6-month preventive suspension against Binay and several others back in March over the allegedly overpriced construction of the P2.2-billion Makati City Hall Building II.
The complaint against Binay and his co-respondents alleged that they committed "violations of procurement laws in the award of the design, architectural and engineering services contract to MANA Architecture and Design Co. without public bidding and the release of periodic payments without its corresponding deliverables; and other procurement irregularities, including the use of falsified bid documents in the award of the construction contract to Hilmarc's Construction Corporation."
Binay later got a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Court of Appeals (CA).
The Ombudsman, however, suspended Binay and several Makati officials anew in June over the allegedly anomalous construction of the Makati Science High School building.
Binay has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the allegations against him are just part of a smear campaign against his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is running for president next year.
According to Morales, it is up to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) if it will honor the younger Binay's certificate of candidacy (COC) if he files it next week for the 2016 local elections. He is expected to seek re-election as mayor of Makati.
NO PUBLIC BIDDING, UNDUE HASTE
In its decision, the Ombudsman said the services of MANA were engaged without public bidding. It said Binay, et al committed fraud by manipulating the procurement to ensure the award of the contract to MANA, with payments totaling to P11.97 million, despite the incomplete submission of deliverables such as design plans, working drawings, and technical specifications.
There was also undue haste in the award as it took the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) only 11 days to complete the procurement process, it added.
The Ombudsman also said that there was collusion among city officials and Hilmarc's, noting that the construction projects were awarded to Hilmarc's despite the lack of the required publication of the invitations to bid, with Hilmarc's as the lone bidder in 4 phases of the project, the Ombudsman said.
According to Morales, Binay had the obligation to ensure that the contracts he was entering into were fair, reasonable and advantageous to the government.
"It bears emphasis that despite the irregularities involved in the procurements, and glaring 'red flags' already present in the early stages prior to the bidding and up to the release of the first and second payments to MANA, he still went on to approve the release of the last two payments in favor of MANA. By so acting, Binay, Jr. intentionally closed his eyes to the irregularities by failing to observe utmost diligence."
NOT JUST JUNJUN: LAWYER
Meanwhile, Binay's lawyer, Atty. Claro Certeza, denied that the suspended mayor's camp has received the Ombudsman's order.
"Not yet [received]. I think the Ombudsman is more concerned on propagating its resolution to the media than to the parties themselves," he said in an ANC interview.
Certeza questioned the timing of the release of the Ombudsman's decision, noting that Binay is set to file his COC next week.
He said the Binay camp has already presented evidence showing that there was no overpricing in the contracts of the Makati City Hall Building II.
He also urged the people to "look at the bigger picture," saying the Ombudsman order is meant to hurt the presidential campaign of Jejomar Binay, who is the standard bearer of the opposition party United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
"Something like this will negatively impact both the vice president and Mayor Junjun... Whatever allegations are made against the son somehow will affect the father and this is what they are precisely doing," Certeza said.
"This is not merely a case against Mayor Junjun. It is an indirect way of attacking and destroying the credibility of the vice president," he added.
'BIAS, SELECTIVE JUSTICE'
Joey Salgado, vice presidential spokesperson, likewise said that the Ombudsman's order aims to stop the younger Binay from running in 2016.
"Si Secretary Butch Abad na taga-LP (Liberal Party) higit P72 bilyon ang involved na amount sa DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) ni hindi sinuspinde habang may preliminary investigation. Si Mayor Junjun Binay na taga-oposisyon, suspendido agad at ngayon pinatatanggal pa nila sa serbisyo. Kahit na noong isang linggo pa lang siya pinasasagot ng COA sa initial findings ng Special Audit nila sa City Hall Building 2. Kahit na nag-issue ng injunction ang Court of Appeals na pinipigilan ang suspension ni Mayor Junjun. At kahit na dinidinig pa ng Supreme Court ang isyu," said Salgado.
READ: Abad, Relampagos face preliminary probe over DAP
"Bistado na ang Ombudsman... Gusto nilang pigilan ang pagtakbo ni Mayor Junjun. Pero nagkakamali sila dahil hanggang walang final judgement sa kaso, pwedeng tumakbo sa eleksyon si Mayor Junjun Binay."
Salgado cried foul over what he called "bias and selective justice" and "conspiracy" among the Ombudsman, Senate, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) to destroy the reputation of the Binay family.
"Haharapin ito ni Mayor Junjun at dudulog siya sa hukuman para matigil ang pang-aabuso at panggigipit ng administrasyon. Hindi mapipigilan ng order ng Ombudsman ang pagtakbo ni Mayor Junjun Binay sa 2016 at maglingkod muli sa mga taga-Makati," he said.
MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
The younger Binay's sister, Makati Rep. Abigail Binay, said they will seek a reconsideration of the dismissal order issued by the Ombudsman.
"Of course, lahat ng utos ng Ombudsman, pwede kang umakyat, pwede kang umapela, pwede kang humingi ng TRO [temporary restraining order] doon sa immediately executory siya," she said in an interview on radio dzMM.
"Other than the appeal, we can still file for a motion for reconsideration doon ho sa order ng Ombudsman. Again, this is not final and executory... So hanggang sa hindi ho pinal ang order ng Ombudsman, there's nothing that can stop my brother from running."
The congresswoman said in a worst case scenario, she will run for mayor of Makati in her brother's place. She said she has until December 10 to substitute for her brother.
She believes their father is the real target of the dismissal order against her brother. "We won't be surprised if their next target is the vice president kasi yun naman talaga yung target nila," she said.
But she maintained that the vice president will not quit the presidential race in 2016.
READ: VP Binay: Only courts can say I'm corrupt
'END OF DYNASTY'
Meanwhile, Malacañang said it respects the decision of the Ombudsman, being an independent office from the Executive.
"In undertaking its constitutionally-mandated role, it is incumbent on all parties to abide by the decision and to avail of the legal remedies provided under law," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a text message.
For his part, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the vocal critics of the vice president, said truth and justice have prevailed.
"The fight was long, difficult and bitter but, in the end, truth and justice prevailed. The Ombudsman's order signals the end of the Binay dynasty. I only hope it would lead to a new era of good governance in Makati," said Trillanes, who is running for vice president next year. -- With reports from Robert Mano, dzMM; Carolyn Bonquin, RG Cruz, Willard Cheng, and Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News