Binay benefited from ‘overpriced’ Makati building—former ally
MANILA, Philippines–Vice President Jejomar Binay had benefited from the allegedly overpriced parking building in Makati City, his former ally told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.
Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado made this allegation after he admitted before the Senate blue ribbon committee that he himself benefited from the Makati City Hall parking building, which was completed in 2013.
Mercado’s admission came after Senator Antonio Trillanes IV asked him directly if he benefited from the said project.
“Ang lalim ho naman yata ng tanong ni Ginoong Trillanes. Mukhang nahuli ho n’yo yata ako..Pero alam ho ninyo, hindi ho talaga ako sinungaling. Ako ho ay magsasabi ng totoo dahil pagtatawanan naman ho ako ng taumbayan at ninyong lahat…” he said.
(That was a difficult question by Mr. Trillanes. It seems like you caught me. But you know, I am not a liar. I will only tell the truth because you and the people will only laugh at me (if I don’t tell the truth).)
“Ako ho aaminin ko sa inyo dun sa phase 1 at phase 2 nakinabang po ako,” Mercado said.
When Trillanes asked if the Vice President, who was the city mayor when the project started in 2007, also benefited, Mercado said: “Alam po ninyo tayo namang mga pulitiko, alam natin ang sagot du’n e. Kung ang vice mayor po ay nakinabang ay siguro po higit na nakinabang po ang mayor dito.”
(I will admit to you that I benefited from phases 1 and 2. We politicians all know that when I, as vice mayor, benefited, surely, the mayor benefited more.)
“Kasi ako naman ho ay hindi pumipirma ng kontrata e. Tinatanong n’yo lang din naman po ako ng tapatan, ‘yun po ang aking sagot. Kung ako ho ay nakinabang, imposible ho namang hindi din nakinabang ang aking mayor.”
(I do not sign contracts. You asked me straight up and that is my answer. If I benefited (from it), then it is impossible that the mayor did not benefit (from it).)
When Trillanes asked for a categorical question whether or not the Vice President benefited from the project, Mercado answered: ‘Opo (Yes).’
Senator Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel III, who was presiding over the hearing, then asked if Mercado’s statement was based on his personal knowledge or just an “implication” that because he benefited from it, his mayor must have also gained from it.
“’Yan naman po ang kalakaran ho (That is how the system goes),” Mercado said.
“Naging automatic conclusion mo na lang ‘yun (Was that your automatic conclusion)?” Pimentel further asked.
But Trillanes interrupted and said: “Mr. Chairman, I think na-establish naman ho ni Vice Mayor Mercado na matagal silang magkasama (Mr. Chairman, I think Vice Mayor Mercado has already established that he and (Binay) have been together for quite some time)…”
At the start of his testimony, Mercado was shocked to learn that the cost of the 11-story parking building was P2.7 billion when it was only estimated at P1.2 billion.
Mercado was still the vice mayor during phases 1 and 2 of the project.
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