Former Makati councilor Renato Bondal has filed another plunder complaint against Vice President Jejomar Binay with the Office of the Ombudsman, this time over Binay’s alleged involvement in the illegal conversion of a government-owned property in Fort Bonifacio in Makati City.
The six-page complaint accused Binay and nine others of violating Republic Act 7080 or the Anti-Plunder Law as well as RA 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when they allegedly colluded to illegally convert a 16,000-square meter government property on Sampaguita Street and J.P. Rizal Extension in Barangay Comembo into a private property.
The property was then allegedly registered in the name of one of Binay’s suspected dummies.
The case is the 4th complaint filed by Bondal against Binay.
Last week, he filed a complaint accusing the Vice President, his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and University of Makati (UMak) president Tomas Lopez and four others for allegedly misappropriating P547.42 million that was meant for the university’s College of Nursing (now College of Applied Health Studies).
Last year, Bondal filed two plunder complaints against the Binays in connection with the allegedly anomalous construction of the Makati Science High School Building as well as the Makati City Hall Building 2.
The latest case involves a Fort Bonifacio property that was used to be occupied by the Philippine Army’s 525th Engineering Battalion, the complaint said.
“This property, which ought to have been intended for housing the urban poor of the City of Makati was converted, misappropriated, transformed from a public land from a laudable public purpose, to a private ownership of Vice President Jojo Binay hidden through his familiar frontmen/dummies… to the damage and prejudice of the people of Makati specifically and the Filipino nation in general,” Bondal said in his complaint.
Also named as respondents in the complaint were: former city engineer Nelson Irasga; Gerardo Limlingan and wife Marguerite Lichnock, president and corporate secretary respectively of Meriras Realty Development Corporation; and Man Bun Chong and wife Erlinda Chong and children Imee Chong, Kimtung Chong, Irene Chong and Kimsfer Chong.
The Chong family were allegedly members of the board of directors of Meriras and suspected to be fronting for Binay.
“Responsible officers” of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were also named respondents in the complaint.
Bondal cited as basis in his complaint the revelations of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado during hearings of the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee formed to probe the allegations against the Binay family.
“This complaint involves the illegal conversion and misappropriation of a public property which was previously part of the Fort Bonifacio military reservation decreed for disposition by previous presidents of the Republic of the Philippines strictly and exclusively intended for individual occupants of said public property,” he said.
Bondal added that Mercado specifically identified the property during a Senate hearing last September 25 as owned by Binay “but whose name and beneficial ownership is hidden under the Meriras Realty Development Corporation and/or the name of Erlinda Chong.”
He said, “The name Meriras is the combination of the names of Mercado and Irasga who both in the 1990s were still in the good graces of then mayor and now Vice President Jejomar C. Binay.”
On August 27, 2002, the DENR issued a miscellaneous sales patent – Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 6331 covering 8,877 square meters in favor of Erlinda Chong even when she “was not an actual resident of the property she being a resident of Guadalupe Nuevo in violation of Republic Act 730,” Bondal alleged.
RA 730 allows the sale of public lands without public auction for residential purposes to qualified applicants under certain conditions.
The complaint also cited Proclamation 518 dated January 19, 1990 issued by the late President Corazon Aquino, which provides that any awardee of the Fort Bonifacio land that is part of the military reservation shall be entitled to as large as 300 square meters only and only in favor of bonafide occupants/residents.
“Subsequently, the aforesaid property was subdivided into four lots and the respondents caused the cancellation of OCT No. 6331 and the issuance of four Transfer Certificate of Titles,” Bondal said.
The complaint said Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 223939 (1,971 sq.m.), TCT No. 223938 (1,411 sq.m.), TCT No. 220458 (1,765 sq.m.) and TCT No. 224175 (3,730 sq.m.) were under the name of Erlinda Chong.
She eventually sold the 3,730 sq.m. property to the president of the Manila Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for P130.55 million.
“It is clear that notwithstanding the unequivocal requirements enumerated by law, certain responsible officials of the DENR conspired and rendered indispensable cooperation to the principal respondents for the subsequent award of the property to Erlinda Chong, then acting as front and/or dummy of the Vice President Jojo Binay as testified to under oath by former Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado in several Senate committee hearings akin to her and her immediate family members’ role in the other corporations and business now mentioned in the recent Anti-Money Laundering Council Report,” Bondal alleged.
“It must be noted that the use of Erlinda Chong became important because a juridical entity like Meriras could not possibly be a beneficiary of any land grant as provided for by Republic Act 730,” he said.
Bondal added that the financial reports for 1999 to 2002 that Meriras submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission allegedly showing that the firm never paid any rent to Erlinda Chong bolstered Mercado’s testimony before the Senate.
“Considering that if the ownership of the land actually pertained to Erlinda Chong, then it would have been reasonable that Meriras would have paid rental on the land,” he said.