Junjun Binay seeks dismissal of graft, falsification raps

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FORMER Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. is asking the Sandiganbayan’s Third Division to reconsider its resolution to proceed with the trial of graft and falsification charges lodged against him and several others in connection with the alleged anomalous construction of the Makati City Hall Parking Building.

The anti-graft court, which earlier found probable cause to proceed to trial, affirmed the earlier findings of the Office of the Ombudsman, which filed the charges in February last year.

The case stems from alleged irregularities surrounding the awarding of a contract to build the Makati City Hall Parking Building to Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.

Binay, son of former vice president and long-time Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, is being accused of conspiring with several former Makati City officials in rigging the bidding process and falsifying documents to facilitate the awarding of the contract.

Lacking evidence

He argued, however, that the findings of the Office of the Ombudsman that the Sandiganbayan upheld “lack any hint of evidence.”

The former Makati City mayor said there were no overt acts that would constitute the crimes alleged against him, and that he was being charged as a conspirator in a scheme “without concrete bases that will show acts in unison” with it.

Moreover, the Sandiganbayan failed to consider that the alleged falsification of an Affidavit of Publication could be committed without his participation, Binay said.

Presumption of regularity

He argued further that at the time the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) decided to award the contract to Hilmarc’s, “there were no instances on hand to show any irregularity in the proceedings, considering that there was nothing in the BAC Resolution and the Disbursement Vouchers which appeared to be irregular on their face.”

“In particular, the bid documents presented to Accused Binay Jr. included the requisite notarized Affidavit of Publication, attesting to the fact that the Invitation to Bid was indeed advertised,” Binay’s motion for reconsideration read.

Binay said he could not be held liable for relying on the notarized document, “which carried with it the presumption of due execution and authenticity.”

Also, “the element of ‘undue injury’ is absent considering that the alleged overpricing of the construction was never established,” he said.

Overlapping charges

The Makati City Hall Parking Building was constructed in five phases with one design phase spanning 2007 to 2013, covering the respective terms of Binay and his father.

When the cases against the younger Binay were filed in February last year, the older Binay enjoyed immunity from suit as he was vice president at the time.

Graft, malversation, and falsification cases against Binay Sr. and several others were thus filed after his term as vice president ended. These were consolidated with the ones earlier filed where the younger Binay was charged as a respondent.

The younger Binay is among the respondents in the malversation case and two counts of graft filed against his father and several others. The Sandiganbayan, however, has yet to rule on whether there is basis to try these cases. REINA TOLENTINO

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