Junjun Binay arraigned, pleads not guilty to car park raps
Former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. on Monday pleaded not guilty to graft, malversation and falsification of public document charges over the overpriced Makati car park building.
Binay attended his conditional arraignment before the Sandiganbayan Third Division for the court to assume jurisdiction over him in considering his travel motion.
“Not guilty,” Binay Jr. said after the clerk of court read his six counts of falsification of public documents, four counts of graft, and one count of malversation over the alleged rigged procurement and overpricing of the P2.2 billion Makati car park building.
Binay Jr. asked the court’s approval for him to travel abroad from Aug. 14 to 24 for the medical consultation of his six-year-old daughter in the United States.
During the hearing, Binay Jr.’s lawyer Francias Paul Baclay said his client is appealing to the court to travel abroad to accompany his daughter Ken-Ken to have a medical consultation due to her uncommon ailment brought about by the child’s premature birth.
He said Ken-Ken’s pediatrician Dr. Irma Makalinao recommended another doctor, Dr. Ricardo Tan, a known allergologist and immunologist based in the United States.
When Presiding Justice and division chair Amparo Cabotaje-Tang asked if Binay’s daughter may be treated by a doctor based in the Philippines, Baclay said what Dr. Makalinao recommended was a doctor based in the United States.
“It is only now that they had been give this referral for a second opinion given the rarity of the disease,” he said.
Meanwhile, the prosecution opposed Binay Jr.’s travel motion, adding that the defense lawyer has not given a reason if there is a doctor who could give a second opinion on Binay Jr.’s daughter in the Philippines.
The prosecution also questioned why Binay Jr. only requested a travel motion now when his daughter had been diagnosed in 2013.
In its comment opposition, the prosecution questioned the need for Binay Jr. to be present for the consultation abroad, and that it was not shown if Ken-Ken needs to be treated abroad due to lack of medical experts or medical equipment in the Philippines.
“Ken-Ken’s medical condition, although allegedly rare or uncommon, was not shown to be requiring special treatment which could only be done abroad due to lack of medical experts and/or inadequacy of medical equipment and facilities in the Philippines,” the prosecution said.
In response, Baclay said it was only now that Dr. Makalinao recommended a doctor to give a second opinion, and that there is a need for consultation abroad because Ken-Ken’s lesion on her heart has not yet closed.
Tang said the court has submitted Binay Jr.’s motion for resolution.
Tang reminded the parties that Binay Jr.’s conditional arraignment was intended for the court to take cognizance of his travel motion since he was not yet arraigned because of the court’s pending resolution on the finding of probable cause against him.
“The court would like to stress that this does not guarantee that the motion would be granted,” Tang said.
Binay Jr. is a co-accused in the graft and malversation case of his father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay Sr., for the allegedly anomalous construction of the P2.2-billion Makati car park building.
While Binay Sr. was charged with rigging the first three phases of the building when he was Makati mayor, Binay Jr. was charged for phases IV and V of the building when he succeeded his father in the city hall.
Binay Sr. was charged with one count of malversation or violation of Article 217 of the Revised Penal Code, four counts of graft or violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, and nine counts of falsification of public documents or violation of Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code. The former vice president lost his presidential candidacy in the May 9 general elections.
Binay Jr. was also included as a co-accused in his father’s malversation charge and in the two counts of Binay Sr.’s graft charges.
Binay Jr. was earlier charged with two counts of graft and six counts of falsification of public documents in connection with the construction of the building during his term.
According to the charge sheet, Binay Jr. and Sr. face a malversation charge for misappropriating P11.011 million as payment to Mana Architectural and Interior Design (MANA) for the architectural design of the building and dispensing with public bidding to enter into a negotiated contract with MANA.
In its resolution finding probable cause against the two, the Ombudsman said the documents showed that Binay Jr. and Sr. had approved the Bids and Awards Committee resolutions, notices of awards, contracts and payments using unnumbered/undated disbursement vouchers and obligation requests despite glaring procurement violations.
The Binays released the payment to MANA despite its failure to submit the approved plans and specifications for the construction of the Makati car park building.
Binay Sr. also faces four counts of graft for causing injury to government and giving undue advantage to MANA, the winning firm for the architectural design, and Hilmarc’s Construction, the firm for the construction of the building which started in 2007.
Binay Sr. and Binay Jr. were charged with one count of graft each for acting with manifest partiality, evident bad faith and gross inexcusable negligence in awarding the design contract to MANA despite violations of procurement laws and failure to deliver the approved plans and specifications.
Binay Sr. was charged with three more counts of graft for giving undue advantage to Hilmarc’s for the first three phases of construction. Binay Jr. was charged for awarding the contract to Hilmarc’s in connection with the third phase.
The prosecution said Binay Sr. entered into a contract with Hilmarc’s despite the absence of accepted and approved plans and specifications of the project.
Binay Sr. then allegedly rigged the bidding for the phase I construction worth P386.998 million, phase II construction worth P499.357 million, and phase III construction worth P599.395 million despite the absence of an approved appropriation for the project and through a simulated bidding.
“(The Binays) caused undue injury to the government by depriving Makati city of the opportunity to obtain the most advantageous offer for the project,” the prosecution said.
In connection with the falsification charges, Binay Sr. allegedly conspired with the city administrator and bids and awards committee members in falsifying two 2007 issues of the newspaper “Balita,” one 2008 issue, and another 2009 issue to make it appear that invitations to apply for eligibility and to bid (IAETB) were published “when in truth and in fact… said publisher did not do so, and no such IAETB was published.”
He was also accused of fabricating affidavits of publication to make it appear that the publisher authorized the publication of invitations to bid when in fact there were none.
He was also charged for allegedly falsifying the unnumbered BAC resolutions declaring Hilmarc’s as the bidder with the lowest calculated bid for the first three phases of construction.
The resolutions made it appear that invitations to bid were published and a public bidding was conducted even though these were “untruthful statements” embodied in the statement of facts of the resolution.The Ombudsman earlier noted the following anomalies—the Bids and Awards Committee completed the procurement process for the building with undue haste or only 11 days; the procurement for the construction was awarded to Hilmarc’s Construction despite lack of invitations to bid with Hilmarc’s as lone bidder in four phases of the project; the construction also began despite the absence or approved design standards, contract plans, agency cost estimates, detailed engineering and programs of work; and the city officials and Hilmarc’s colluded to rig the public biddings.
Binay Jr’s two other graft charges stemmed from the allegation that he gave undue preference to Hilmarc’s Construction in the contract for Phases IV and V construction of the Makati parking building worth P649.276 million and P141.649 million, respectively.
Binay Jr’s falsification charges stemmed from allegations he conspired with the city administrator and bids and awards committee members in falsifying a July 7, 2011 issue of Balita newspaper and a Aug. 2, 2012 issue of “Metro Profile” newspaper to make it appear that invitations to apply for eligibility and to bid (IAETB) were published “when in truth and in fact… said publisher did not do so, and no such IAETB was published.”
Binay Jr. also allegedly falsified affidavits of publication to make it appear that the publisher authorized the publication of invitations to bid when in fact there were none.
He was also charged for allegedly falsifying the unnumbered BAC resolutions declaring Hilmarc’s as the bidder with the lowest calculated bid for the last two phases of construction.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.