THE camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Saturday deplored the acceptance of three Binay detractors “with questionable morals and dubious reliability” into the Witness Protection Program (WPP).
The office of the Vice President said one of them, Renato Bondal, admitted in a Senate hearing he lied under oath. Bondal had claimed that the birthday cakes given to senior citizens in Makati City were overpriced at P1,000 per cake. When shown official documents that the cakes cost only P300 each, Bondal admitted that the P1,000 was only a “guess.”
“Nanghula lang siya [He made a guess]. For this, Filipino taxpayers are paying for his “protection,” a statement from Binay’s office said.
Another witness, former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, “has not provided any credible evidence to support his allegations,” the statement said. “He has also changed his testimony twice. In his first appearance, Mercado replied “most likely” or “malamang” when asked if the Vice President earned from the project. But on his second appearance, he changed his tune.”
Mercado “even produced bags as props. But props in a Senate kangaroo court will not be considered evidence in a court of law. What is clear is that Mercado himself had admitted to receiving kickbacks from the projects, and we find it highly improbable if such an admission will qualify Mercado as not being the most guilty. Yet, taxpayers are also paying for his protection,” it added.
It said the Department of Justice (DOJ) must not allow Mercado to abuse the WPP privileges. “The agency should not tolerate his gambling habit to the point that it will provide security for Mercado each time he visits casinos or cockpits to gamble. This will be the ultimate disservice to the WPP and a total waste of taxpayers’ money all to advance the political demolition agenda of two senators,” the statement said.
Mercado, Bondal and Nicolas Enciso 6th were placed under witness protection on Friday on the request of the Senate blue ribbon committee.
The three claimed that Binay benefited from the controversial Makati City Hall Building 2 and other projects when he was mayor.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said people admitted into the WPP are granted immunity “because it is a way of encouraging the witness to be very really open about what they know in connection with a particular subject matter which is under investigation.”