Binay sounded ‘presidential’—spokesman
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay’s speech before a packed room of supporters where he disputed allegations of corruption Thursday was a preview of him as president, his spokesman said.
“It’s his preparation for being president. He sounded presidential today,” Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla said, responding to media questions that the gathering had the semblance of a meeting de avance.
“He wrote the speech himself. It is high time that he answer the allegations because he is being oppressed left and right. He decided finally to stand up and face everything,” he said.
Binay answered claims brought out during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings that the Makati City Hall Building II was overpriced and that he received kickbacks by enumerating his arguments point by point.
“First: the allegation of the first witness that the Makati City Hall Building II was overpriced was based only on estimates of the National Statistics Office (NSO). But NSO itself said that there are limitations to their estimate and it cannot be used as a basis. This means it is not evidence,” Binay said.
“Second: the allegation that the bidding of projects are rigged are just empty words because they don’t have any documents.
Third: “The allegation that the mayor made money because the vice mayor admitted to the same is merely a conjecture,” he said.
Binay also refuted that the alleged commission delivered in bags were just “heresay” evidence from Vice Mayor Ernest Mercado during his testimony before the blue ribbon committee headed by Senators Alan Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.
“None of their testimonies will stand in a court of law. They are only saying these things in circus hearings in the Senate,” he said.
Binay said that throughout the five years the Makati City Hall Building II was being constructed, Commission on Audit (COA) had conducted up to 10 audits by engineers, architects, surveyors, and accountants and that no anomaly was ever found.
“The contractor of the building has directly said that I have not asked or was given any bribe,” Binay said. “If there were any commission that Mercado says he received, it clearly was just for him.”
Asked why Binay chose to give a speech before his supporters instead of coming to the Senate to air his side, Binay’s spokesman JV Bautista said that they didn’t see the point in going there when Cayetano and Trillanes were the ones dominating the hearings.
“The Senate [hearing] is dominated by the two senators. In previous hearings, if they don’t like the answer of the witness they will stop him from answering and if they like the witness’s answer then that is the only thing they will listen to,” Bautista said.
“Under such circumstances it will not be good for the vice president to go there because the case is already before the Ombudsman, it should no longer be tried by the two senators who don’t really understand the evidence,” he said.
Binay said that if an accurate estimate of the price of the Makati City Hall Building II could be obtained, it should be compared with the price of other government buildings such as the Iloilo Convention Center, House of Representatives Annex Building, Calamba City Hall Complex, and Sandigabayan Building.
“The price of the Makati City Hall Building II is P69,549 per square meter. This is cheaper than the P74,751 per square meter of the Batasan Pambansa Annex Building,” Binay said.
“More comparable is the P68,140 per square meter of the two-story Iloilo Convention Center which is still in the first phase,” he said.
Binay questioned why his project was being singled out in the Senate when it was comparable in price to other government projects done by allies of the administration.
“They are prosecuting me because those with political ambitions don’t want me to continue the projects I started in Makati to the entire country,” Binay said.
“They don’t want me to help the poor because they are children of wealthy and elite families who look down on others,” he said.
Originally posted at 05:00 pm | September 18, 2014
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