Arrest Junjun Binay if he defies order—Ombudsman | Inquirer News
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Arrest Junjun Binay if he defies order—Ombudsman

/ 05:40 PM March 12, 2015

MANILA, Philippines—The Office of the Ombudsman may move for the arrest and cite in contempt Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay if he continues to defy the preventive suspension against him for graft and malversation over the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.

“The Ombudsman has the power to cite a person in contempt if he disobeys an order of the Ombudsman,” Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan said in a press conference Thursday.

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While the Ombudsman has no direct prosecutorial powers, it may file before the Regional Trial Court a petition for contempt against a person who may be arrested for defying the Ombudsman’s orders.

Mayor Binay has holed himself up in the Makati City Hall in defiance of the six-month suspension order. He accused Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of having an unseen hand in the Ombudsman through lawyers affiliated with the special panel of investigators.

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Rafanan denied Binay’s allegations that Roxas had lawyers in the special panel of investigators, which found strong evidence of guilt that gave way to the filing of the malversation and graft complaint before the Ombudsman.

“The Ombudsman goes by the evidence… There is no truth to that,” Rafanan said.

“The Ombudsman vouches for the integrity of its investigators who came from different offices of the Ombudsman… The respondents are expected to answer the charges regardless of external insinuations that they may have,” he added.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Binay as saying the Ombudsman’s special panel of investigators included prosecutors affiliated with Simeon Marcelo, former Ombudsman and law partner of Nonong Cruz.

“They are not only lawyers of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas but are also known as his operators,” the mayor said in the report, noting that the DILG was the implementing agency of the suspension order.

“They have legal remedies if they have proof of this supposed connections,” Rafanan said.

Rafanan said the DILG as implementor of the suspension order may enforce the law in the suspension of Binay.

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“There are other means beyond going to contempt powers. The Ombudsman can direct other law enforcement agencies in enforcing the suspension order,” Rafanan said.

The Ombudsman also denied Binay’s allegations that its initial investigation that gave way to the preventive suspension order was rushed.

“The complaints were filed as early as July 2014. And the period of eight months is reasonable time and no way can one state that the period of eight months implies undue haste,” Rafanan said.

Rafanan said Mayor Binay should respect the Ombudsman order as elected public officials.

“We hope the respondents will obey the rule of law in their avowals of public service. They have to abide by the rule of law,” Rafanan said.

The Ombudsman suspended Mayor Binay and 20 others without pay for six months as they face graft, malversation and falsification of documents over the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.

Binay was suspended from office as he may use his position to frustrate witnesses or tamper with evidence, the Ombudsman said.

The suspension order was imposed as the Ombudsman is set to start its preliminary investigation against Mayor Binay’s father, Vice President Jejomar 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.

Vice President Binay was not ordered suspended because he was not included in the administrative complaint.

Besides the criminal charges, the respondents except for VP Binay face the administrative raps for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.

The Ombudsman Special Panel of Investigators filed last 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.

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.

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.

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.

Besides Mayor Binay, suspended from their government posts 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, and GSD staff member Norman Flores.

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.

Rafanan said the Ombudsman investigators as of now did not find evidence of plunder.

“But that does not foreclose any evidence that could point to a possible offense of plunder,” Rafanan said.

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

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