1,000 Binay supporters gather at Makati quadrangle as mayor’s suspension looms
MANILA, Philippines — With signages that screamed “Imbes na STOP Binay, TOP Binay!” and “Sulong Binay, Sulong Makati,” about 1,000 supporters of the Binay family gathered once again on Wednesday at the Makati City Hall quadrangle to express their unwavering support following threats of yet another suspension for Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.
Earlier, investigators from the Office of the Ombudsman filed a complaint-affidavit recommending that the mayor, along with 19 other officials, be placed under preventive suspension pending investigation for the alleged rigging of the bidding for the construction of the Makati Science High School building.
Among the respondents were Vice President Jejomar Binay, who recently tendered his irrevocable resignation from his posts in the Aquino Cabinet.
This was not the first time Makati residents rallied behind the Binay family, as they did most recently in March, when Binay, who is also being investigated for corruption allegations on the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, defied suspension orders in his office while hundreds of supporters flanked the city hall grounds.
Sitting in monoblock chairs under tarpaulin tents to house residents from each of Makati’s 33 barangays (villages), these supporters vowed to stay indefinitely, said Ding Bolo, barangay captain of Brgy. Pinagkaisahan in District 2.
“We are here to support Mayor Binay and the Vice President. Whatever happens, we are with them until the end,” added Bolo.
The barangay head said they would respect the decision of the Ombudsman on the case but said that they would “remain loyal supporters” of the Binays despite the numerous corruption allegations against them.
The crowd gathered on the City Hall grounds was composed mostly of barangay (village) officials and residents of the city who were entertained with loud pop music coming out from big speakers placed on a makeshift stage.
On Tuesday, Binay’s lawyer Claro Certeza dismissed as “hearsay” the purported state evidence on the alleged rigging of the bidding for the construction of the Makati Science High School.
Certeza said the supposed evidence was given by former Makati City general services head Mario Hechanova and was based on what the late engineer Nelson Morales had told Hechanova.
“This hearsay evidence is not accepted by the court,” Certeza said of Hechanova’s allegation that Morales had told him to “fix” the bidding for the project.
“There is no way to prove whether it is true or not. Under our judicial system, a witness can only testify on something he has personal knowledge of. In this case, Engineer Morales is not around to attest to a statement attributed to him by Hechanova,” Certeza explained.
Last March, around 2,000 to 3,000 pro-Binay residents also gathered on the City Hall grounds for days after the Sandiganbayan placed Binay and other local officials under a six-month preventive suspension for the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
The mayor spent 28 days inside his office on the 21st floor of the City Hall building until the Court of Appeals granted his petition for a preliminary injunction and ordered the Ombudsman to respect its earlier ruling to stop the suspension order.
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