MANILA – The Court of Appeals has affirmed its earlier ruling which dismissed former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, Jr. and perpetually disqualified him from holding public office over controversies surrounding the P1.3-billion Makati Science High School building.
Binay Jr. is accused of rigging the bidding process for the Phase 6 of the school building in favor of service contractor Hilmarc, which cost P166.85 million. Because of incomplete information in the published invitation to bid, only Hilmarc was able to submit bid documents with a bid proposal of P165.26 million.
The Office of the Ombudsman found him guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and dismissed him from service. It also perpetually disqualified him for holding public office.
The CA affirmed the Ombudsman’s decision in May last year.
In his motion for partial reconsideration, Binay claimed good faith, noting that there was nothing apparent that would have prompted him to withhold his signature on the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) resolution, notice of award, notice to commence work, certificate of completion and acceptance and the disbursement vouchers.
But the CA Former Eighth Division rejected his argument saying Binay could not say he had no knowledge of any facts or circumstances that would prompt him to investigate or exercise greater care.
“To reiterate, Binay, Jr. approved the BAC Resolution even though the IAEB that was published in Daily Tribune and at the PhilGEPS website and those posted in conspicuous places at the Makati City Hall contained incomplete information as only the title of the project, project cost, date of availability of bid documents, place of submission of letter of intent and schedule of activities were included. As a result, prospective bidders were prevented from participating and submitting their bid documents on time, thus, favoring Hilmarc and awarding to it all the contracts for the construction of the MSHS Building including the Phase VI thereof,” it said.
“Despite the glaring irregularities in the procurement of the construction services of Phase VI, Binay, Jr. approved the BAC Resolution recommending Hilmarc as the bidder with LCRB, awarded then entered into a contract with Hilmarc, notified Hilmarc to commence construction of Phase VI, accepted the completion of the project and signed DVs (disbursement vouchers) in favor of Hilmarc,” it added.
The Court, in a consolidated resolution dated Dec. 20, 2019, also pointed out that the case Binay cited, the 1989 case of Arias vs. Sandiganbayan, is a criminal case which will not apply in an administrative proceeding.
“Unlike in Arias, where there was no reason for the heads of offices to further examine each voucher in detail, Binay, Jr. as HoPE (Head of Procuring Entity), was expected to exercise reasonable diligence in making sure that the prescribed bidding procedures under R.A. 9184 were properly complied with considering that this involved a multi-million peso construction contract or the amount of PhP165,264,847.00. Also, Binay, Jr. was expected to ensure that his subordinates observe the requirements set forth in R.A. 9184, its IRRs and question them if necessary for any deviation and undertake measures before approving the BAC Resolution and other documents subsequent thereto. Had Binay, Jr. exercised the due diligence expected of him, he would have easily noticed that the requirements under R.A. 9184 were not complied with,” it said.
The Court reminded government officials that the rules on competitive public bidding and those concerning the disbursement of public funds are imbued with public interest.
“Government officials whose work relates to these matters are expected to exercise greater responsibility in ensuring compliance with the pertinent rules and regulations,” it warned.
In the same ruling, the CA dismissed the motions for reconsiderations of the other respondents.
Twelve other former employees of Makati City Hall were found guilty of serious dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Former Makati City Administrator Eleno Mendoza was also found administratively liable for simple misconduct and was meted the penalty of suspension of 6 months without pay.
The latest CA ruling was penned by CA Associate Justice Ronaldo Roberto Martin and concurred in by Associate Justices Ramon Bato, Jr. and Ramon Cruz.