A Commission on Audit (COA) report has effectively cleared Vice President Jejomar Binay, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay and 22 other city officials charged with plunder for the alleged overpriced construction of Makati City Hall Building 2.
Mayor Binay said a COA memorandum issued in February this year “validates our position that this so-called plunder complaint is not supported by facts and is part of a well-funded demolition job against my father.”
Binay said the complainant, Renato Bondal, was in Cebu on Tuesday and was set to go on a tour of Iloilo and other key cities in the Visayas to spread lies against the Vice President.
“How can a local politician, a perennial loser at that, suddenly find the resources and the boldness to go on a region-wide speaking tour with media coverage? There are obviously national-level backers behind him,” he added.
The mayor said they expect more baseless complaints in the coming weeks.
“They will be filing complaints on the Friendship Suites, Makati Science High School, the new Ospital ng Makati, our birthday cakes for seniors, among other programs. We are ready to face these allegations. All these projects have passed COA scrutiny but that will not prevent our detractors from proceeding with their demolition campaign,” he added.
The mayor noted that in February, the COA cleared the Makati city government of overpricing allegations over the construction of City Hall Building 2.
The audit report was issued in response to Bondal’s letter dated January 10, 2014 asking the COA Makati auditor to explain an alleged discrepancy between the project cost and data from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Copies of the letter were sent to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and COA chief Gracia Pulido-Tan who referred the letter to COA National Capital Region (Metro Manila).
The COA report said there was no basis for the claim of discrepancy between the project cost and statistics from the NSO cited by Bondal.
“The statistical data was derived from the copy of approved building permits being issued by building officials. Inquiry made from building officials disclosed that the building permits were based on the approved building standards and documentary requirements without evaluation of the construction cost,” the six-page memorandum report addressed to Director Carmelita Antasuda, COA-NCR local government sector head, said.
Makati auditor Cecilia Cagaanan, who signed the report on February 17 2014, said the construction cost of buildings varies depending on its design.
“A high-rise building with unstable soil conditions will entail a more rigid and complicated base/structural preparations and requires higher quantity and quality of materials to be used,” she noted.
“Structures with parking areas require different designs as compared to [a]common/regular building, which is subjected to heavier and moving loads. In addition, the building is designed to withstand earthquake with certain level of intensity,” the report said.
It cited the construction of the main building of Makati City Hall as “a classic example.” Based on research and available data, “the soil structure was found soft,” the report said.
“Hard strata at this area [were]reached from 13 meters to 15 meters elevation from the ground,” it added.
The report said COA technical audit specialists (TAS) found the contract price “reasonable.”
The TAS also checked previous audit reports and these reports “did not disclose any adverse finding” on the Makati City parking project in the annual audit reports from 2008 to 2010, in the files of audit observation memoranda, and notices of suspension and disallowance.
“Thus it could it be construed that the payments were allowed in audit,” the report said.
The camp of the Vice President had claimed that the plunder complaint was part of a demolition job against the Binays.