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VP Binay calls ex-ally’s testimony plain lies

/ 01:43 AM August 27, 2014

Vice President Jejomar Binay: Plain lies. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday dismissed as lies the Senate testimony given by his former Makati vice mayor that he made money from an alleged overpriced car park building in Makati City.

While Binay swore he had not pocketed money from the parking building or any project of the city government, he said the admission of former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that he had taken kickbacks from that project should prompt authorities to file charges against him.

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“I swear by God and the people that I have not received nor asked money for this project or for any project in Makati,” Binay said.

“To my countrymen, rest assured that I will answer all these baseless allegations against me point by point,” said the Vice President, who earlier said his busy schedule did not allow him to attend the Senate hearings for now.

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In a statement his office issued a few hours after Mercado appeared before a Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, Binay said his former ally’s testimony proved correct his earlier statement that the “campaign of lies and vilification against me and my family will intensify.”

The Vice President, the first among presidential aspirants to declare that he would run in 2016, said Mercado’s testimony was part of the script of his political opponents.

“All that Mr. Mercado said are lies. He has been making these baseless allegations since 2010 when he ran and lost. The people of Makati know him as a liar and a fabricator,” Binay said.

“If Mr. Mercado admitted that he received kickbacks from the Makati Building 2 project, it is only right that he be charged by authorities. Nevertheless, Mr. Mercado conceded his accusations against me are mere conjecture and speculation,” the Vice President said.

He said what saddened him was that “some senators wish to coddle and protect” Mercado even if he admitted he had pocketed kickbacks.

Personal ambition

Binay said the Senate was being used to “malign” his name and that of his family “to advance personal ambition.”

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He pointed out that some senators, apparently in reference to Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, had declared plans to run for President and Vice President, respectively, and that was “why they have gone full throttle in their attempts to malign me.”

Having monitored the past two blue ribbon subcommittee hearings on the parking building controversy, Binay said it was clear that the investigation “will never be fair and impartial.”

He also said the Commission on Audit findings that there was no overpricing had not been disputed and that this was attested by technical audit specialists when they testified on the reasonableness of the price of the project.

‘Selective justice’

Former President Joseph Estrada, now Manila mayor, came to the defense of Binay, lambasting administration lawmakers for employing “selective justice” in pursuing allegations of corruption in government.

Speaking with reporters at the Sandiganbayan, Estrada lamented how allies of President Aquino were being shielded from congressional inquiries into alleged irregularities in the use of public funds.

“I don’t know if it’s just coincidence, but only those in the opposition are being grilled,” Estrada said after attending the hearing for the bail petition of his son, detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, at the antigraft court.

“Now, they’re after Vice President (Jejomar) Binay. I think this is really selective justice. It’s how I look at it. Those in the opposition are being singled out,” he added.

Estrada said the investigation of the supposed anomalies in government should also cover proadministration congressmen and senators.

No credibility

Former Makati City Administrator Marjorie A. de Veyra said Mercado had “no credibility” as a Senate witness because he admitted receiving kickbacks from the construction of the car park building.

De Veyra said Mercado should not be sitting as a witness at the hearing since he admitted to pocketing money from the construction of the building.

“While vice mayor, he was known to frequent casinos here and abroad, where he is considered a high-roller and given five-star treatment by casino operators. He is known to lose millions in cockfights. We wondered how he was able to afford such a high-living lifestyle but his admission of personally gaining from the Building 2 project gives us the answer,” De Veyra said in a statement.

De Veyra, who worked with Mercado in the city government during his term as Binay’s vice mayor from 2007 to 2010, said that the vice mayor’s statements were “self-serving,” noting that he did not present any proof to support his allegations against the Vice President.

“He has been saying bad things about the Binays since 2010 when he ran and lost against Mayor Junjun Binay. But he has not given any proof because he does not have any,” she said.

Mercado went against Binay when he decided to run against the Vice President’s son in the 2010 mayoralty race which he lost.

De Veyra added that as former city administrator, she had firsthand information on Mercado’s activities.

Citing an investigation conducted by the city government, the former city administrator said Mercado “abused the trust and confidence given to him by the Vice President,” who was then Makati mayor.

“Department heads have confirmed receiving calls or personal visits from the former vice mayor during his term,” she said.

De Veyra claimed that Mercado would personally hand-carry checks and documents to department heads for their signatures without the knowledge and consent of Binay.

The Makati City government said that Mercado’s sudden “change of heart” was part of his effort to preempt the filing of charges against him by the city government. Reports from Christine O. Avendaño,  Marlon Ramos and Maricar B. Brizuela

RELATED STORIES

Binay: ‘I swear by God I’ve not received’ kickbacks

Binay benefited from ‘overpriced’ Makati building—former ally

Ex-Makati City exec slams Mercado’s testimony vs Binay as ‘self-serving’

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TAGS: car park building, Ernesto Mercado, Jejomar Binay, Makati, overpricing charge, Senate probe
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