The Binay daughters should better keep their mouth shut if they want their father to become the country’s president.
Their defense of their father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, against allegations of plunder involving the construction of an 11-story building in Makati City when he was mayor is not at all amusing. It is insulting.
Nancy, the elder of the Binay daughters who rose from obscurity to rank fifth in the 2010 senatorial elections, rejected criticisms of her brother’s description of the controversial building as world class by saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“Siguro that’s their opinion, ‘di ba? ‘Di ba, parang beauty din ‘yan eh… It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” she told reporters in an interview.
“Siguro ganoon din ‘yun sa building, ‘di ba? Para sa kanila, hindi ganoon kagandahan pero sa amin maganda na ‘yan. Lalo na kapag nakapag-ikot ka sa buong Pilipinas. I don’t think may makikita kayong ibang LGU building na ganoon ang itsura,” she explained.
None of my friends and acquaintances who have long been residing in Makati, and those who work in Makati that I have talked to recently agrees with the senator.
For one thing, a friend who had seen photos taken inside and outside the building detests the existence of an “urban planing division” and a “museum and cultural affair” office among the many occupants of the building.
My friend wondered what kind of planing activities are done, or if air or hydro planes are being designed or assembled in the “urban planing division.” What kind of affair exists in the “museum and cultural affair” office?
It was Nancy’s brother, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, who described the building as “world-class” when he appeared last week at a public hearing by the Senate blue ribbon committee to answer allegations that the building was grossly overpriced.
In last week’s Senate hearing, Rogelio Peig, assistant vice president for legal of building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corp., was evasive when asked if it was world class.
“We’re not saying it’s world class. We’re also not saying that it’s not world class,” he said.
Peig also admitted that the building is not a “certified green building” because it did not go through the certification process, but that some of the building’s features are “green.”
By the way, how much is the actual price tag of the building?
The nine-page complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman in July by Renato L. Bondal and Nicolas “Ching” Enciso VI accusing the vice president of plunder said the building was supposed to have amounted to only P245.56 million but was overpriced by more than P1.314 billion. The final contract price was pegged at P1.56 billion.
The complainants described the building as “the most expensive parking building in the entire country, if not the entire world.”
In the Senate hearings, bigger figures have come out, ranging from P2.2 billion to P2.7 billion.
It is so easy for the other Binay daughter, Abigail, the petite congresswoman, to dismiss the serious allegation against her father as mere black propaganda instigated by potential political rivals in the 2016 elections.
Ascribing political motives has always been a convenient excuse among politicians accused of wrongdoing.
With Engineer Mario Hechanova, former Makati General Services Department head and Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) vice chairman, testifying that the bidding for the building was rigged, and that he was forced to fix the process by then-City Engineer Nelson Morales, there should be a deeper probe into this mess.
We hope that the investigation will be pursued to clear the Binays or send to jail whoever profited from this building that obviously does not have world-class features from the outside.
Congresswoman Abigail Binay also blamed the alleged overpricing of the controversial Makati parking building to the construction boom in China sometime in 2008.
“You also have to remember the time it was built, it was the time when there was so much high demand on steel because China was buying all the steel because they were building for the Beijing Olympics,” she said in an interview on television.
By the way, it was reported that Hilmarc’s, the contractor of the Makati building in question, is also the contractor of The Grove, a project of Rockwell Land Corp. that awarded the congresswoman a condominium unit that she won in a raffle at Rockwell shopping mall last February. Doesn’t that smell?
Perhaps a meticulous comparison of the prices of materials used piece by piece is necessary to check if there was indeed overpricing.
The candid admission by former Makati Vice-Mayor Ernesto Mercado in his testimony at the Senate investigation that he received a commission from project is another interesting angle. He theorized that if he as vice mayor got money from it, the mayor could have received bigger amounts.
The testimonies and pieces of physical evidence presented have made the allegations serious enough to be pursued. The Senate investigators should not leave it hanging.
Meantime, should we hear more from the Binay daughters? Or should they just keep their mouth shut?