A sub-committee report that recommended filing of plunder charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay was officially adopted on Monday as a full report of the Senate blue ribbon committee after at least 10 senators affixed their signatures to the document.
The 46-page report on Senate Resolution 826, which called for an investigation of alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall Building 2, needed only nine signatures for it to be adopted by the 17-member Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, popularly known as the blue ribbon committee.
The report was prepared by sub-committee chairman Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd.
Aside from the Vice President, the sub-committee report also recommended filing of charges against his son, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr, incumbent and former City Hall officials as well as the Vice President’s alleged associates who were being accused of conspiring to overprice construction of the building.
The Vice President and his camp have repeatedly denied the allegations.
The sub-committee report said the Building 2 project was overpriced by P1.1 billion to P1.3 billion based on its computation using industry standards and other inputs from experts who testified during Senate hearings.
From the P2.7 billion allocated by the Makati city government for the project, Hillmarcs Construction Corp., the contractor, was paid a total of P2.2 billion.
But according to construction industry experts, the project should have cost only around P890,000 or about P35,000 per square meter.
According to the committee secretariat, Senators Teofisto Guingona 3rd (blue ribbon chairman), Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, Sergio Osmena 3rd, Pilar Juliana Cayetano, Francis Escudero and Miriam Defensor-Santiago signed the report,
Signing it earlier were Senators Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes 4th and Grace Poe.
Escudero, a former ally of the Vice President, was among those who reportedly pushed for the Aquino-Binay tandem in the 2010 elections. They had a falling out after Escudero decided to stay with the administration party’s senatorial slate.
“Based on what was presented at the Senate and, once cases are filed, he will finally have the chance to answer ‘at the proper forum,’ which is what he has been claiming and saying,” he told reporters.
Guingona said it would now be up to the plenary to adopt or not the blue ribbon findings.
A majority vote is needed to approve the report.
Acting Minority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd noted that unless the report is adopted by the majority, the report will remain as a report of the blue ribbon, not of the Senate itself.
After it is presented to the plenary, the report will be debated on the floor where a motion to approve the report will have to be made.
The only the time that the report can be considered official and be transmitted to other agencies based on recommendations stated in it is when the report is adopted by the Senate.
The Binay camp brushed aside the signing of the report.
“The signing by the senators of the committee report does not necessarily equate to the culpability of the Vice President,” Rico Quicho, Binay’s political spokesman, said in a statement also on Monday.
Quicho added that the supposed findings and recommendations of the “hostile and highly partisan investigation” conducted by the sub-committee were conveniently based on “hasty conclusions, inadmissible evidence and malicious narrative of defeated local politicians.”
“These would certainly not be given credence and in fact would be dismissed by a competent, impartial and fair tribunal,” he said.
“The Vice President understands that the political lines have been drawn in the Senate, considering the dismal and lethargic performance of some politicians with ambitions to higher office. It is no longer surprising that issues hurled against the Vice President have been used and abused for personal agenda,” Quicho added.
He reiterated that Binay remains steadfast that in the end the truth would prevail and he would be able to bring to the entire country the pro-poor programs he implemented in Makati City–where the Vice President was once mayor–that have benefited those in need.