MAKATI City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay would not take allegations of Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th of overpricing in the construction of Makati City Hall Building 2 sitting down even as he dared the administration legislator to also investigate his allies’ own anomalous transactions.
In particular, Binay on Monday challenged Trillanes who sought a Senate probe of the allegations of overpricing, to look into reports that the Taguig city government purchased allegedly overpriced multi-cab vehicles worth almost half a million pesos using the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of his partymate, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
“Senator Cayetano has declared his intention to run for President. Since Senator Trillanes has admitted he wants my father probed because he is a candidate for President, then I suggest the good senator also probe his partymate to show that he is fair,” Binay said in a statement, referring to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Quoting a report showing the utilization of Cayetano’s PDAF dated February 28, 2013, the Makati City mayor added that a total of P9 million was allotted for the purchase of 18 units of multi-cabs. The same report showed actual expenses to be P8.96 million, which meant that each unit had cost P498,000, he said.
Meanwhile, Binay said that the Iloilo Convention Center could be considered overpriced if data from the National Statistics Office will be used as the basis, even as he reiterated that the NSO is not a competent authority to prove the allegations of plunder filed against him and his father Vice President Jejomar Binay. According to him, the NSO had admitted that their data on construction and building costs had limitations because these were computed merely on the basis of approved building applications and documentary requirements, not on actual construction cost.
“If NSO data were to be used, the conclusion would be that other government projects like the Iloilo Convention Center are overpriced. We are not saying it is, only to emphasize the unreliability of using the NSO. Both City Hall Building 2 and the Iloilo Convention Center have the same contractor, Hillmarcs,” Binay said.
The mayor added that the NSO has declared that the cost of such a project should only be P13,000 per square meter, but the convention center, based on figures from the Senate website, costs over P107,375 per square meter.
“The cost of the Iloilo Convention Center, based on the Senate report, is P700,000,000. But if you use the NSO data, the cost should only be P86,265,600. So if you use the argument of Renato Bondal which appears be supported by Sen. Trillanes, then the Iloilo Convention Center is overpriced by P613,734,400. Are they now saying the NSO data is correct only as far as Makati is concerned?” Binay said. (See sidebar)
The mayor said it would be wrong to use the NSO data as basis for evaluating the costs of government projects.
Binay has demanded “no less than a public apology” from Trillanes and the Senate committee designated to conduct the probe once the allegations are proven to be false.
While saying a Senate probe was unnecessary since the allegations have already been refuted in an intensive review made by the Commission on Audit (COA) in February, the Makati City appealed to the members of the Senate blue ribbon committee to remain impartial and non-partisan in conducting the investigation.