Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday vowed to answer allegations that he received kickbacks from the construction of the P2.7-billion Makati City Hall 2 when he was still the Makati mayor.
He issued the statement after former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado admitted during a Senate hearing that he received kickbacks from the project. Mercado was vice mayor from 2007 to 2010.
Mercado alleged that Binay also received kickbacks from the construction of the building.
But in a statement, the Vice President denied the allegations and warned the public to be wary about the Senate hearing into the allegedly overpriced building project.
Binay said senators have already prejudged him based on the statements made by his political enemies.
The Vice President added that his intention to run for the presidency in 2016 has forced his political enemies to come out and hurl accusations against him and his family.
“Sa Diyos at sa tao, taas-noo kong sinasabi na wala akong tinanggap o hiningi na anumang pera sa proyektong ito o anumang proyekto sa Makati [Before God and the people, with my head held high I say I did not receive or ask for whatever amount of money in this project or any other project in Makati],” he said.
Mercado, Binay added, is using the Senate to launch a smear campaign against him and his family for his own political ambition.
“Puro kasinungalingan ang sinabi ni Mr. Mercado. Noon pa mang kumandidato siya sa Makati kung saan siya ay natalo ay ganyan na ang kanyang mga sinasabi. Puro walang batayan at walang katotohanan. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit siya natalo. Kilala siya ng mga taga-Makati na sinungaling at gumagawa ng kwento [What Mr. Mecado said were all lies. Even when he ran and lost in Makati he was already telling lies. What he was saying were baseless and false. That was the reason why he lost. The people of Makati know that he is a liar and one who makes up stories],” he said.
Binay promised to continue serving the public and the programs that will alleviate Filipinos from poverty.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay said the 22-story Makati City Hall building is more than just a “parking space.” He said it has granite flooring, centralized air-conditioning, two elevators, a conference room and a mini function hall in every floor.
The incumbent Makati City mayor added that the “modern building” is environmentally friendly, and includes facilities that can be found in other modern office buildings.
A former ranking official of Makati City also on Tuesday said Mercado has no credibility as a Senate witness because he has been criticizing the Binay family for so long but is yet to show proof of his allegations.
Former city administrator Marjorie de Veyra said Mercado’s admission that he received kickbacks from the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2 will not make him a credible witness.
“While vice mayor, he was known to frequent casinos here and abroad, where he is considered a high-roller and given five-star treatment by casino operators. He is known to lose millions in cockfights. We wondered how he was able to afford such a high-living lifestyle but his admission of personally gaining from the Building 2 project gives us the answer,” de Veyra noted.
She described Mercado’s statements as self-serving since he did not give any proof to back his allegations against the Vice President.
“He has been saying bad things about the Binays since 2010 when he ran and lost against Mayor Junjun Binay. But he has not given any proof because he does not have any,” de Veyra said.
According to her, Mercado and Binay had a falling out because the former abused the trust and confidence given to him by the latter when he was the Makati City mayor.
She claimed that department heads confirmed receiving calls or personal visits from Mercado during his term and that it was not uncommon for him to personally hand-carry documents or checks for their signature.
“These were done without the knowledge or consent of [now Vice President]Binay who was Mayor at the time,” de Veyra said.
The sudden “change of heart” of Mercado, she added, is part of his efforst to preempt the filing of charges against him by the city government.