Junjun Binay makes fresh bid to avoid ‘trauma of trial’
Former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. has appealed Sandiganbayan’s finding of probable cause to proceed with his trial over the allegedly anomalous Makati City Hall car park building.
In a motion for reconsideration filed on May 9, Binay said the April 18 ruling of the antigraft court’s Third Division lacked basis because the Office of the Ombudsman failed to show “any hint of evidence” to justify his indictment.
He also questioned the court ruling for having “unjustly pointed the finger at him as a conspirator” in the alleged scheme to rig the bidding for Phases IV and V of the project in favor of Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. from 2011 to 2013.
Asking to be spared from the “trauma of going through a trial,” he insisted that prosecutors fell short of the threshold for determining probable cause.
Binay and 13 others are facing graft, malversation and falsification charges over alleged irregularities hounding the two contacts worth P790.93 million. He is represented by lawyer Jose Julius Castro of the Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza and Binay Law Office.
On April 18, the Sandiganbayan ruled that the prosecution’s evidence so far had shown that the accused, “more likely than not,” committed the alleged crimes and that there was basis to proceed with a trial where they could defend themselves.
But Binay disagreed that the anomalies attributed to city procurement officials took place thanks to his approval as a conspirator in a scheme.
Regarding the alleged falsification of bid documents, he said it was his “ministerial duty” to award and sign the contracts because nothing appeared irregular on their face.
“Hence, there could have been no way for accused Binay Jr. to actually find out about this purported irregularity, if such indeed is true,” his motion stressed.
Binay maintained he had no hand in preparing the allegedly falsified papers, saying he relied on the bids and awards committee (BAC) in good faith since he was “not an expert” in discerning if a document is genuine.
He added there was no law explicitly commanding the mayor to “ascertain (BAC’s) compliance with the prescribed bidding process before he gives out his approval.”
‘Injury’ not proven
The court earlier took note of various procurement violations such as the hasty approval of the BAC resolution and the lack of a preprocurement conference prior to the conduct of such a major government project.
But Binay countered that the prosecution failed to show that the approval of the contracts caused undue injury to the government, hence the case should be dismissed.
The alleged overprice of the city hall project was “never established,” he said, pointing out that the Commission on Audit had also found “no appreciable/patent defects” when the structure was inspected.
“The Honorable Court, with all due respect, cannot rely on mere assertions, speculations, conjectures or guesswork that since there was an alleged simulation of the bidding, that the Makati City government suffered undue injury equivalent to the amounts paid to Hilmarc’s,” he added.
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