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Former vice-president Binay, son, charged with graft in Dh94m school tender

Binay ran for Philippine president during the May 2016 elections

Gulf News

Manila: The Ombudsman has ordered the filing of charges against former Philippine vice-president Jejomar Binay and his son, former Makati City mayor Junjun Binay, in connection with the anomalous bidding and procurement for a school project.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, in an order issued on Thursday, had ordered the indictment of the father and son on four counts of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and three counts of Falsification in connection with a P1.3 billion (Dh94 million) Makati Science High School Building, the contract for the construction of which was signed in 2007.

The Makati Science Building project called for the construction of a 10-storey building alongside a four-storey dormitory, but was completed merely as a 10-storey building.

Much of the negotiations for the project were undertaken during the incumbency of the elder Binay as mayor of Makati City.

Binay, who is also a former presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ Concerns to ex-President Benigno Aquino III, ran for president during the May 2016 elections.

Junjun, on the other hand, was unable to finish his term as Makati City Mayor after he was ordered dismissed, also by Morales, for a separate project, the P2.28 billion (Dh204 million) Makati City Hall Parking Building II.

Morales said they have reason to believe that the Binays favoured a certain contractor, Hillmarc Construction, to win the bidding for the project. Seven companies were invited to submit proposals during a negotiation conference on 18 September 2007

“Hillmarc’s was placed on higher footing than any potential bidders who, by lack of publication of the [invitation] in newspapers of general circulation and by the limited time of posting in the PhilGEPS, City’s website or conspicuous places, were deprived of sufficient chance to participate in the bidding. In fact, no other bidder participated in the public bidding for phases 2, 4, 5 and 6.”

PhilGEPS stands for the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System.

“This logically shows that the public bidding were nothing but a sham,” the Ombudsman said.

It also added that Hillmarc was also able to corner the project by acting in conspiracy with the Binays through falsifying documents, suppressing information to prospective bidders and hasty awarding of the contract.

Also charged together with the Binays for the project were 12 officers and members of the bidding panel, three city accountants and cashiers.

Criminal raps were also ordered to be filed against contractors Virginia Garcia of Infiniti Architectural Works, together with Efren Canlas and Julius Ramos of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation.

Reacting to the filing of charges against the Binays, the former Vice President’s spokesman Joey Salgado said the Ombudsman’s motive was apparently “political.”

“The Ombudsman has time and again disregarded her agency’s internal rules, due process and Constitutional rights to pursue her witch hunt against former VP Binay and his family. Her recent move comes as no surprise,” he said. 

Salgado said allegations against the Binays have already been answered but was disregarded by the Ombudsman.

“It once again underscores the selective prosecution of the Binays and the Ombudsman’s tendency to look the other way when other political personalities are involved.” 

During the last months of Aquino’s presidency, the latter had a much publicised falling out with Binay.

Aquino had supported former Senator Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party. Both lost to Rodrigo Duterte in the May 2016 polls.