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Ombudsman set to start probe on Binay Makati parking building overprice case

/ 06:27 PM March 06, 2015
Makati City Hall Parking Building 2

The ground floor of the Makati City Hall Building II. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NIÑO JESUS ORBETA

The Ombudsman is set to start its preliminary investigation against Vice President Jejomar Binay, his son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and 22 others for malversation, falsification, graft and violation of the procurement law in connection with the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Parking Building.

This after the Ombudsman Special Panel of Investigators filed Thursday its complaint against the respondents for the alleged overpricing of the parking building which started construction in 2007 when Vice President Binay was mayor.

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The filing of the complaint after months of case build-up and evidence gathering by Ombudsman field investigators paves the way for a preliminary investigation which precedes the finding of probable cause and subsequent indictment.

According to the Ombudsman, the preliminary investigation will look into the alleged irregularities in the procurement and award for the design and architectural services as well as the construction of the parking building built along F. Zobel street.

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The complaint said the respondents awarded the P11.9 million contract for the design and architectural services to MANA Architecture and Interior Design Company without public bidding.

It also said that payment for the contract was released to MANA even without the deliverables made.

The first two phases of the construction of the building also proceeded without a detailed engineering plan, contrary to procurement rules, the complaint said.

‘Frivolous, no basis’

In a statement, Vice President Binay’s spokesperson Rico Quicho brushed off the charges as “frivolous” and having “no basis in fact and law.”

He also said the complaint against the Vice President, who has expressed his intent to run for the presidency in 2016, was politically driven.

“This is again a glimpse of how desperate the critics of the Vice President have become in order to fuel their own personal interests,” Quicho said. “Politics has indeed really turned to its worst form.”

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Meanwhile, Hilmarc Construction, the contractor allegedly behind the overpriced construction, was purportedly awarded with the contract despite irregularities and use of falsified documents, the complaint said.

The complaint also said there were two losing bidders in the contract. But as it turns out, one of the bidders deny participation while the other is non-existent.

Also included in the complaint are former City Administrator Marjorie de Veyra, City Legal Officer Pio Kenneth Dasal, City Budget Officer Lorenza Amores, former Central Planning Management Office (CPMO) Chief Virginia Hernandez, former City Engineer Mario Badillo, former City Accountant Leonila Querijero, former Acting City Accountant Raydes Pestaño, City Accountant Cecilio Lim III, Acting City Accountant Eleno Mendoza, City Treasurer Nelia Barlis, CPMO Engineers Arnel Cadangan, Emerito Magat and Connie Consulta, CPMO Chief Line Dela Peña, Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) Secretariat Heads Giovanni Condes and Manolito Uyaco, Technical Working Group (TWG) Chairman Rodel Nayve, BAC member Ulysses Orienza, General Services Department (GSD) OIC Gerardo San Gabriel, GSD staff member Norman Flores, as well as private respondents Orlando Mateo of MANA and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (Hilmarc).

Besides the criminal charges, the respondents except for VP Binay also face administrative raps for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, with the possibility of being suspended from government pending administrative adjudication.

The Ombudsman probe stemmed from a plunder complaint filed by Renato Bondal and Nicholas Enciso VI.

According to the plunder complaint, the construction of the building worth P1.56 billion was overpriced, citing National Statistics Office construction data which amount the average cost of the building that year at P245.6 million only.

The said overpricing allegation is the subject of a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing involving Binay.

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TAGS: Graft, Jejomar Binay, Makati parking building, Mayor Jun-Jun Binay, News, Ombudsman, overpricing, preliminary probe
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