MAKATI City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay on Wednesday admitted that the City hall parking building could have been overpriced, but he is not aware of it because he relied on the recommendations of the bids and awards committee.
Binay made the admission at the Senate blue ribbon committee hearing on the P2.7-billion Makati City Hall II office and parking building.
“I’m the last to sign. You have to rely on the documents presented to you. We have to rely on the recommendation of the bids and awards committee,” Binay said in response to questions from Senate majority leader Alan Peter Cayetano.
The mayor admitted he did not compare the cost of the building with that of similar structures before signing the recommendation.
A lawyer, Renato Bondal, has filed a graft case against Binay, his father Vice President Jejomar Binay and other Makati city officials over the construction of the building.
Bondal, who was at the Senate hearing, is alleging the 11-storey structure was overpriced by P2 billion, based on the computation made by experts, using an average costing of P84,000 per square meter for the 31,900-square-meter structure.
In his presentation Bondal said the building cost more than the P2 billion, 46-storey Shang Grand Tower and the P2.8 billion, 57-storey The Residences.
Binay made it clear that controversial structure is not merely parking building but a “world class building” with a modern office structure.
He said the P2.7 billion included the cost of the furniture and equipment in the building.
He described the structure as a “green building” complete with a landscaped roof deck, atrium at seventh floor, may L.E.D. (light-emitting diode) lighting, glass walls and panels.
“What we have is a world-class building that will benefit the people who will use it. We want to show that Makati can be globally competitive,” Binay said.
COA denied clearing Makati building
The mayor said even the Commission on Audit (COA) found no “adverse finding” from Makati City Audit Groups on the parking building.
But COA Chairman Grace Pulito-Tan, who was at the hearing, refuted the mayor’s claim. The COA never issued any clearance to the city of Makati in relation with the controversial building, Tan said.
“There is no such thing. I mean, the commission does not issue clearances on the nature or the tenor that was described,” Tan said when Sen. Antonio Trillanes asked her about the supposed COA clearance.
Tan said Binay may have been referring to the front page of a memorandum that was submitted by the Makati resident auditor Cecilla Caga-anan to the director of the COA-National Capital Region office.
She said the memorandum is just a report of the resident auditor informing her superior about the structure and asking for appropriate actions.
Tan also raised the possibility of irregularity in implementing the project after learning that the city government divided it into several phases.
“One thing is definite, this (Makati parking building) is not going to go through a regular audit anymore because the regular audit has been done but it will go through a special audit. This will be handled by the central office, the special audit services and we will have a multi-disciplinary team,” Tan said.
The Blue ribbon sub-committee, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd in an interview said his committee will conduct further hearings and will summon other witnesses and resource persons, including Vice President Binay.