Binay faces 4th plunder complaint over illegal Army lot property
Vice President Jejomar Binay faces a fourth plunder complaint before the Ombudsman over his purported ownership of a public military land in Fort Bonifacio that has become his property through an alleged dummy.
Lawyer Renato Bondal filed the plunder and graft complaint accusing Binay, a former Makati mayor, of using the company Meriras Realty Development Corp. as a front to sell the 16,000-square meter property to his alleged dummy Erlinda Chong.
Bondal said Meriras is a combination of the names of Binay’s former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and former city engineer Nelson Irasga. Irasga and Mercado were allies of Binay in the 1990s.
In his complaint, Bondal cited the testimony of Mercado during the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing in September 2014 tagging Binay as the true owner of the property.
Mercado also said the company Meriras was only formed to hide Binay’s true ownership of the Army lot.
In August 2002, Bondal said, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources awarded an area of 8,877 square meters to Chong, even though she was not a resident of the property.
This violated Republic Act No. 730, which permitted the sale of public lands without auction only to qualified residents of the property, he said.
Bondal added that under a proclamation during the administration of President Corazon Aquino, awardees of the land, which was part of a military reservation, were only entitled to a maximum 300 square meters of property and should be bona fide residents and occupants.
He said the property was sold to Chong because a company like Meriras could not be a beneficiary of a land grant under the law.
He added that the property was “misappropriated” from a public land to private property through Binay’s alleged dummies, who were also officials, directors and stockholders of Meriras—Gerardo Limlingan, Marguerite Lichnock, spouses Man Chong and Erlinda Chong, and children Irene, Kimtung, Imee, and Kimsfer.
Bondal said the property, now valued at P1 billion, could have been used as housing for the urban poor of Makati but was instead converted to Binay’s private property “to the damage and prejudice of the people of Makati specifically and the Filipino nation in general.”
“It is clear that notwithstanding the unequivocal requirements enumerated by law, certain responsible officials of the DENR conspired and rendered indispensable cooperation to the principal respondents for the subsequent award of the property to Erlinda Chong, then acting as front and/or dummy of the Vice President Jojo Binay as testified by former Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado in several Senate committee hearings,” Bondal said.
Binay’s alleged dummies and possible responsible DENR officials were also respondents in the complaint.
In a statement, Binay said the fourth plunder complaint was another “nuisance suit.”
“We all know that Bondal and [Ernesto] Mercado are the indefatigable sources of trumped up charges against the Vice President. This is but another charge that has been bought and paid for,” said Rico Quicho, Binay’s spokesperson for political affairs.
Quicho said the Chong family, and not Binay, was the true owner of the property. He also said the Vice President did not control Meriras.
“Based on records, the lot is owned by the Chong family while the improvements thereon are owned by Meriras Corp., which Ernesto Mercado admitted he partly owned … Mercado himself acknowledged during the Senate investigation that the Chongs are legitimate businessmen. It is unfortunate that the Chongs are being dragged into the demolition job against the Vice President and are being portrayed as criminals when their only fault is dealing with Mercado,” Quicho said.
The Vice President and his son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay are facing investigation for graft before the Ombudsman over the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall Building II and Makati Science High School, which are earlier filed as plunder and graft complaints by Bondal.
Bondal’s third plunder complaint against the Binays involved alleged kickbacks from the tuition of the College of Nursing of University of Makati. Marc Jayson Cayabyab
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