A former political opponent of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday filed graft and plunder charges against him and suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay over the dubious joint venture between the University of Makati (UMak) and the Systems Technology Institute (STI).
Lawyer Renato Bondal, the lone challenger of the younger Binay in the 2013 election, lodged the complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Vice President Binay, his son, UMak President Tomas Lopez and four other private respondents namely, Eusebio Tangco, Atty. Monico Jacob, Annabelle Bautista and Jack Arroyo Jr.
In a 10-page complaint, Bondal said, in the course of his participation in the Senate probe into alleged corruption in the country’s business capital Makati, “I have uncovered indubitable facts and/or records showing how the public respondents, conspiring and confederating with one another and with the private respondents…diverted, misappropriated and/or funneled the tuition fees, miscellaneous fees and other funds intended for the College of Nursing of University of Makati…in the aggregate amount and/or total value of more than P547,420,499.00 from 2004 to 2015, to a private corporation named Philippine Healthcare Educators, Inc. (PHEI)…in order to accumulate and/or to amass ill-gotten wealth for themselves and/or for their co-conspirators.”
He said that in December 2003, then-Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and Lopez entered into a joint venture/shareholder’s agreement with Systems Technology Institute (STI) – which is run by Tanco, Jacob, and Borromeo – in order to establish UMak’s College of Nursing.
The P547.42 million represented the tuition fees collected by PHEI from 2004 to 2015, according to the complaint.
Bondal described the agreement as “anomalous and illegal” saying it was unnecessary for the state university because it was equipped with the facilities to operate a nursing school on its own.
He also alleged that the public respondents did not call for a public bidding when the deal was signed.
“Verily, public respondents just essentially selected and/or hand-picked STI on their own and sans [without]any authority of law and without any legal or reasonable basis or criteria, in violation of the provisions of RA [Republic Act] No. 9184 otherwise known as the Government Procurement Reform Act,” Bondal said.
“At that time, STI did not have any viable Nursing or allied medical program or school, so it is anomalous that it was given the concession to operate UMak’s College of Nursing on a silver platter,” he added.
According to the complaint, which cited PHEI’s articles of incorporation, UMak and STI had about 40 percent of PHEI’s shares while UMak and STI nominees had one share each.
“What is surprising, however, is that private respondent Dr. Jack G. Arroyo, Jr., who is not connected with either UMak or STI and whose only connection with the parties is that he is the friend of public respondents, was allocated 20 percent of the shares of PHEI,” Bondal alleged.
The complainant pointed out that Arroyo’s supposed share was allegedly never mentioned in the joint shareholder’s agreement, that the latter allegedly never participated in any of the Umak’s or the nursing college’s affairs, and that he allegedly never publicly declared his “directorship/substantial shareholdings” in PHEI in his published resume.
“All these has led complainant to arrive at the inevitable conclusion that Dr. Arroyo is merely a nominee/dummy fronting for public respondent Jejomar Binay, who had the most powerful one share in PHEI,” Bondal alleged.
The complainant also accused the younger Binay, who became Makati mayor in 2010, of tolerating the allegedly anomalous arrangement between UMak, PHEI, and STI.
“He continued to fund the P1.2 Billion Nursing Building until it was completed during his term and he continued to provide unwarranted benefits and undue advantages to PHEI, STI and the rest of the respondents in this case when he continued to allocate funds for the operations of the College of Nursing, which being managed and operated by PHEI, STI and rest of the respondents,” Bondal said.
“In sum, there was really no reason at all to establish PHEI and to cede tuition fees collected from the students. In fact, only Makati City has this special arrangement with a private company through a joint venture agreement where the City government, despite ownership of the facilities and building succumbed to a minority stockholder position vis-a-vis STI. Grossly disadvantageous as it is, even Tomas Lopez as president of UMak was also chairman of PHEI and which clearly indicate a conflict of interest. One could reasonably conclude that PHEI then was created for only one purpose, to plunder, pillage, rape the City Government of Makati…through a devious and sophisticated financial manipulation,” he said.