Cayetanos of Taguig sued as probe vs Binays starts
On the day he put the Binays on the spot in a Senate inquiry into allegedly overpriced public buildings in Makati City, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano found himself and his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, at the receiving end of similar allegations of fund misuse.
A lawyer associated with the Binays filed graft and plunder complaints Wednesday against the Cayetanos and 16 other Taguig officials for the alleged misuse of over P673 million from the senator’s pork barrel and the city government’s coffers.
Roderick Vera, whom the Cayetanos noted to be a law school classmate of Makati City Rep. Abby Binay, accused the senator of allocating his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) amounting to P351 million to finance bogus projects in Taguig and the mayor of spending P313.2 million for nearly 3,200 “ghost” employees.
A third complaint had Vera claiming that the Cayetanos and the Taguig City councilors spent as much as P9 million of Sen. Cayetano’s PDAF just to buy 18 multicab vehicles.
The lawyer also questioned what he considered an anomalous increase in Sen. Cayetano’s declared net worth from P15.8 million in 2010 to P23.2 million in 2011.
The Cayetanos dismissed Vera’s complaints as fabrications meant to distract the public’s attention from the Senate probe into the questionable building projects of then Makati Mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Erwin Jr., the incumbent mayor.
Vera, who identified himself as president of the Philippine Association for the Advancement of Civil Liberties Inc., said the senator’s use of his PDAF—a congressional fund declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in November—was “tainted with anomalies and irregularities indubitably showing that said funds were misused, paid for overpriced projects and/or applied to ‘ghost projects’” as stated in an audit report of the Commission on Audit (COA).”
Vera also questioned the propriety of the local officials’ decision to hire 3,188 casual employees, noting that the number was bigger than the total workforce of real estate giant Ayala Land Inc.
“(Mayor) Cayetano would like the public to believe that aside from Taguig’s plantilla or regular employees… (the city government) paid (one) IT professional for every 600 residents, a ratio that is far better than New York City, London and Paris,” Vera said.
As to the multicabs, Vera alleged that the vehicles were bought at P498,000 each whereas similar models are available in the market for only P188,000 per unit.
In a press conference at Taguig City Hall, Councilor Darwin Icay, who spoke in behalf of the city government, found Vera’s timing highly suspect.
“Any citizen has a right to file charges but the politics in this are clear—Attorney Vera is a law school classmate of Rep. Abby Binay and his law firm has close ties to Vice President Binay. The (firm) was also used as a shadow organization that attacked (Interior) Secretary Mar Roxas during the Delfin Lee arrest. Their agenda is clear: Make up bogus charges and create a distraction from the ongoing investigation into the Binay’s corruption involving the Makati parking building. These are pure lies based on maliciously distorted facts,” Icay said.
Icay maintained that the multicabs, for example, were ‘’brand-new”—not refurbished—transports meant to serve as ambulances and emergency response vehicles. “There is no overpricing of the ambulances since they are designed to last longer (and) are safer,” he explained.
As to the ghost employees, Icay said the allegation was completely false as the COA itself had accounted for each of these workers. “They (Binays) are free to check the figures released by the COA in their reports. Instead, they distort these facts and figures to mislead the public and destroy the reputation of the Cayetanos.”
In a statement, Sen. Cayetano also explained that the increase in his net worth was due to his inheritance after the death of his grandparents.
“You can see that when the stock market is high, our SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth) is also high because everything goes up,” he added.
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.