After over a year of investigation, the Office of the Ombudsman found ground to file charges at the Sandiganbayan against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and 22 others in connection with the alleged anomalous bidding and construction of the P2.28 billion Makati carpark building.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales found probable cause to file charges of graft, malversation of public funds, and falsification of public documents against the Binays and Marjorie De Veyra, Pio Kenneth Dasal, Lorenza Amores, Virginia Hernandez, Line Dela Peña, Mario Badillo, Leonila Querijero, Raydes Pestaño, Nelia Barlis, Cecilio Lim III, Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat, Connie Consulta, Ulysses Orienza, Giovanni Condes, Manolito Uyaco, Norman Flores, Gerardo San Gabriel, Eleno Mendoza, Jr. and Rodel Nayve.
Private respondents Orlando Mateo from Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. (MANA) and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s Construction Company (Hilmarc’s) were also included in the indictment.
The respondents have five days from receipt of the Ombudsman’s resolution to file their motions for reconsideration.
The Ombudsman said documents “established badges of fraud committed by Binay, Sr. et.al. in manipulating the procurement to ensure the award of the contract to MANA; processing and approving a series of four (4) payments totaling to P11.97 million despite the incomplete submission of deliverables such as design plans, working drawings, and technical specifications.”
It also found alleged violations of R.A. No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act including the supposed absence of publication of invitations to bid as provided in the law.
“A certified true copy of the publication obtained from the National Library showed that no advertisement for the invitations to bid was made as attested to by the publisher,” the office said.
It added that there was “undue haste” in the award since the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) took only 11 days to complete the procurement process for the multi-million peso infrastructure project.
The vice president argued that the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate impeachable officials, but Morales dismissed his assertion and explained that “being an impeachable officer does not insulate him from investigation.”
She said Binay was investigated for criminal acts he allegedly committed while he was Mayor of Makati City and not as Vice President.
“At all events, impeachable officers, like Binay, Sr., are within the investigatory power or jurisdiction of this Office,” the Ombudsman stressed.
But because Binay is immune from suit, the office will have to wait until his tenure expires before a case may be filed in court.
If he wins in the presidential race next year, no charges can still be filed because a president is also immune from suit.
“Hindi po ito minadali, ang dapat pong malaman ng ating mga kababayan nagsimula po ang investigation September 15, 2014 and that means na mahigit na po isang taon mula nang imbestigahan ang bagay na ito [This was not railroaded, what our countrymen should know is that the investigation started September 15, 2014 and that means it has been over a year since this matter was investigated],” Maria Janina Hidalgo, spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman Hidalgo, said.