Ombudsman orders dismissal of Junjun Binay
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the dismissal of suspended Makati Mayor Junjun Binay over the controversial Makati parking building.
Morales on Friday said Binay will be dismissed for grave misconduct and dishonesty, as there were “irregularities in the services and contract for the construction in several phases of the parking building.”
The Ombudsman also recommended that Binay be prohibited from serving in any government position. His benefits will also be forfeited.
“We have promulgated our resolution. I ordered the dismissal of Mayor Binay for grave misconduct and dishonesty. What goes with it is perpetual disqualification from holding public office, forfeiture of retirement benefits,” Morales told reporters in an ambush interview.
Binay can appeal the Ombudsman’s decision but it was immediately executory.
Morales said it will be up to concerned authorities if Binay, who is eyeing reelection as Makati mayor, will still be allowed to file his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the 2016 elections.
“It’s up to the authorities if he files a COC and still be honored, that’s no longer my concern,” Morales said.
In a statement, the Ombudsman said Mayor Binay was sacked for his administrative liability over the alleged anomalous bidding, construction and payment of the Makati carpark building project worth P2.28 billion.
The Ombudsman noted “flagrant anomalies” allegedly committed by Binay in the procurement for the design and construction of the parking building which consisted of six phases.
Design by MANA
In phase 1, Binay allegedly procured the services of Mana Architecture and Design Co. (MANA) without public bidding. The Ombudsman also accused Binay of committing “badges of fraud” based on the documents which showed manipulation of the procurement so that the contract goes to MANA.
Mayor Binay also processed and approved a series of four payments worth P11.97 million even though MANA failed to submit complete deliverables such as design plans, working drawings and technical specifications, Ombudsman Morales said.
The Ombudsman also noted other procurement violations such as the absence of publication of invitations to bid which is required under the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The Ombudsman even looked at a copy of the National Library and found out that no advertisement for the invitations to bid was made as attested to by the publisher.
The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) was also hit for its “undue haste” and “extraordinary haste” in the procurement process which only took 11 days to complete.
The Ombudsman said “the purported negotiation and evaluation of bid proposals on 22 November 2007 was conducted with extraordinary speed.”
Ombudsman Morales added that “for one hour only, the BAC completed the entire negotiation proceedings where bid proposals of seven architectural firms that allegedly participated in this multi-million project were opened and evaluated.”
Morales even cited the Commission on Audit Fraud Audit Office’s Initial Evaluation Report which said “the negotiated procurement adopted by the BAC was improper.”
In the statement, Ombudsman Morales said Binay “intentionally closed his eyes to the irregularities by failing to observe utmost diligence.”
Morales said Mayor Binay had the obligation to ensure the contracts were fair, reasonable and advantageous to government.
Instead, the local chief executive still went on to approve payments to the architectural firm MANA even if the early stages of procurement were already marred with red flags.
Construction by Hilmarcs
Mayor Binay was accused of awarding the construction contract to Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. despite the lack of required publications of invitations to bid.
HIlmarc’s was also the lone bidder in all four phases of the project, the Ombudsman said.
The construction of the building also pushed through despite the absence of approved design standards, contract plans, agency cost estimates, detailed engineering and programs of work.
The Ombudsman also said there was no pre-procurement conference was undertaken and that the bid documents were made available for one day only, in violation of the Procurement Act.
Morales said there was collusion among city officials and Hilmarc’s to rig the five public biddings so that the contracts were awarded to Hilmarc’s.
Mayor Binay is liable because he approved the pertinent documents, such as the BAC resolutions, notices of awards, contracts and payments, she said.
In a statement, Binay spokesman Joey Salgado said Mayor Binay’s dismissal was politically motivated to target the family of Vice President Binay because the latter is expected to file his certificate of candidacy for President in 2016.
“Bistado na ang Ombudsman. Minadali nito ang order dahil sa Lunes ay magsisimula na ang filing ng CoCs para sa 2016 election. Ni wala pang kopya ng order na natanggap si Mayor. Dismissal by press release ang ginawa ng Ombudsman,” Salgado said.
In March, the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Binay over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, but the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order against its implementation.
The order came after a special panel of investigators from the Ombudsman conducted a preliminary probe against Binay, his father Vice President Jejomar Binay, and 22 other Makati officials over criminal charges of graft, malversation, and violations of the Government Procurement Act.
Only the younger Binay and other local officials were preventively suspended for the Makati parking building case. Binay was ordered suspended anew by the Ombudsman in June, this time in connection with the Makati Science High School Building. It was only then that Binay respected the suspension order and vacated his post. KS/RC
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