NSO not the authority in proving plunder raps vs Binays, says Makati mayor
MANILA, Philippines — “If NSO figures are used, then the Iloilo Convention Center is overpriced.”
This was the statement of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay on Monday as he reiterated that that the National Statistics Office (NSO) would not be the “competent authority” to prove the plunder charges against him and his father Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“If NSO data were to be used, the conclusion would be that other government projects like the Iloilo Convention Center are overpriced. We are not saying it is, only to emphasize the unreliability of using the NSO,” Binay said.
This came after Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV called for a Senate investigation on the alleged overpricing of the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2, which was also the subject of the plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal.
Bondal claimed that there was a “discrepancy” between the project cost of the building and the NSO data. Binay earlier said that the complaint against them “is obviously politically motivated” since the partymates of Bondal, who ran against the Makati mayor last year, were not included in the complaint.
Noting that the building being investigated and the Iloilo Convention Center had the same contractor, the Makati mayor pointed out that the NSO has placed the cost of the Iloilo project at only P13,000 per square meter. But based on the figures from the Senate website, it cost over P107,375 per square meter, said Mayor Binay
“The cost of the Iloilo Convention Center, based on the Senate report, is P700,000,000. But if you use the NSO data, the cost should only be P86,265,600. So if you use the argument of Renato Bondal who appears to be supported by Senator Trillanes, then the Iloilo Convention Center is overpriced by P613,734,400. Are they now saying the NSO data is correct only as far as Makati is concerned?” Binay added.
He also explained that the NSO has already admitted that their data of construction and building costs had “limitations” since these were computed merely based on the “approved building applications and documentary requirements” and not on the actual construction cost.
With these considerations, Binay said that it would be wrong to use NSO data as basis to evaluate the appropriate costs of government projects.
The Makati mayor suggested that Trillanes investigate reports that the Taguig City government allegedly purchased overpriced multicab vehicles worth half a million pesos with the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano if he really wanted to “fight against overpricing.”
“Senator Cayetano has declared his intention to run for president. Since Senator Trillanes has admitted he wants my father probed because he is a candidate for president, then I suggest the good senator also probe his party mate to show that he is fair,” Binay challenged Trillanes.
The Makati mayor earlier said that the senator has “prejudged the issue” and would only use the Senate hearing to “malign the name of the Vice President.”
“We demand no less than a public apology from Senator Trillanes and the Senate committee tasked to conduct the probe once the allegations are proven to be false,” Binay noted.
Earlier, the Makati mayor said he saw no need for a Senate inquiry since the allegations were already refuted by the Commission on Audit last February. Binay, however, said that he and his father “are ready to face” the Senate inquiry but appealed to the blue ribbon committee to be impartial and nonpartisan in conducting the investigation.
“We are hopeful that some senators, especially those who belong to the same parties as our local opponents in Makati, will set aside personal and political agendas during the hearing,” he added.
The mayor and the Vice President have maintained that the overpricing allegations did not have “factual nor legal basis” and were just made to destroy the name of the older Binay who has announced his plan to run for the 2016 presidential elections.