Binay, son, et al., face ₱1.5-B plunder charges before OMB

JEJOMAR BINAY

Vice President Jejomar Binay, his mayor-son Erwin Jejomar Binay Jr., and 21 other former and incumbent elected officials of Makati City are facing ₱1.5-billion plunder and graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman (OMB).

The nine-page complaint was filed by the Save Makati Movement (SMM), headed by Renato Bondal and Ching Enciso.

The group accused the Binays and others of constructing an “incredibly overpriced” parking building in the heart of the country’s financial and business capital.

Among those charged were former and incumbent councilors Ferdinand Eusebio; Arnold Magpantay; Romeo Medina; Tosca Puno Ramos; Maria Alethea Casal-Uy; Ma. Concepcion Yabut;

Virgilio Hilario; Monsour del Rosario; Vince Sese; Nelson Pasia; Salvador Pangilinan; Elias Tolentino; Ruth Tolentino; Henry Jacome; Leo Magpantay; Nemesio “King” Yabut; Armand Padilla; Israel Cruzado; Ma. Theresa De Lara; Angelito Gatchalian and Ernesto Aspillaga.

Also slapped with plunder was Cecille Cag-anan of the Commission on Audit (COA) for her alleged failure to safeguard public funds allowing, the other accused to commit alleged criminal acts.

SMM said the city government spent ₱1.5 billion for the construction of the New Makati City Parking Building along F. Zobel Street in Barangay Poblacion from 2007 to 2013.

It said the first appropriation ordinance was for ₱P400 million which was approved by the Vice President when he was mayor six years ago.

When the younger Binay took over in 2010, he and city councilors allegedly continued to approve six more appropriation ordinances for the continued construction of the building with additional appropriation of ₱1.1 billion.

The complaint added that based on the data of the National Statistics Office (NSO), the average cost of construction for commercial and institutional buildings was only about ₱7,691 per square meter in 2007.

It claimed that erecting the structure at that time would only cost about ₱245 million.

The complaint stated that an enormous overprice of more than ₱1.3 billion was made considering how much was actually spent until the 11-story building with floor area of 31,928 square meters.

“The respondents, particularly the Vice President Jejomar Binay and the incumbent Mayor Erwin Binay violated every rule in construction manuals and government procedures in pushing for a project that was grossly overpriced and funded irregularly through supplemental budgets for five years,” the SMM said.

It alleged that even the initial appropriation of ₱400 million “is clearly already overpriced by more than P154 million and should merit Vice President Binay being haled to court for plunder.”

Bondal and Enciso noted that in the fourth quarter of 2012, the average construction cost of a commercial building in the locality was ₱9,527 per square meter which means that at such price, the construction of the parking structure should cost only about ₱304 million.

“The total amount appropriated by respondents to cover the cost of construction as of 2012 was however ₱1.5 billion or an overprice of more than ₱1.2 billion,” they said.

The complainants stressed that even if the present construction standards for high-end commercial buildings will be used, the current acceptable construction cost is only ₱25,000 per square meter.

“Thus, with the actual floor area being 31,928 square meters, then the reasonable cost of the building computed at current prices is only ₱798.2 million. By this very simple computation, the Makati City Parking Building has been grossly overpriced by no less than ₱761.8 million and no amount of cost overruns could be invoked for this despicable mismanagement and gross abuse of public funds,” they said.

“The overpricing of the building project could not have been committed without a deliberate, systematic and unconscionable raid of public funds designed by the Binays and the other respondents to defraud the people of Makati and gain personal profit in the process,” Bondal and Enciso said. - Manila Bulletin 

 
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