Binay files new libel suit vs Mercado
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Friday filed another libel suit against former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado for the latter’s claim during a Senate hearing that Binay had “extorted” condominium units from developers.
It was Binay’s third criminal complaint against Mercado who had testified against the former Makati mayor in Senate hearings investigating plunder accusations against Binay in connection with several allegedly overpriced Makati buildings constructed during his term.
The nine-page complaint filed in the Makati prosecutor’s office on Friday morning sought to prove that Mercado was “lying when he maliciously, falsely and feloniously accused the Vice President of extorting condo units from developers” in exchange for permits and tax concessions, Binay’s legal counsel Claro Certeza said in a statement.
“This claim has been publicly belied by the developers themselves. It only shows that Mercado is a pathological liar and has zero credibility,” Certeza said.
According to the complaint, SM Development Corp., Megaworld Corp., Robinsons Land Corp., Rockwell Land Corp. and Eton Properties had issued separate statements denying Mercado’s allegations.
Ready to face charges
In a text message to the Inquirer, Mercado said he “was prepared to face all the charges” that Binay had filed against him.
“I also hope that Vice President Binay will do the same and answer all the charges instead of just saying ‘it’s all politics,’” the whistle-blower added.
Binay’s complaint accused Mercado of violating Article 355 in relation to Article 353 of the Revised Penal Code when he “maliciously” accused the Vice President of extorting condominium units from some developers who supposedly hoped to be issued permits or tax concessions during his (Binay’s) time as city mayor.
In a Senate subcommittee hearing in November last year, Mercado claimed that Binay owns several condo units in Makati using dummies.
But in his complaint, Binay claimed that Ariel Olivar—whom Mercado had accused of being Binay’s dummy for his alleged unit in The Peak Tower—had admitted to receiving instructions from Mercado himself.
Olivar, an engineer, told a Senate hearing on Jan. 22 that Mercado had instructed him to use his own name as owner of the 150-square-meter unit at The Peak condominium in Makati that was allegedly owned by Binay. He had never met Binay, Olivar added.
The Binay camp said the unit under Olivar’s name was the same unit where Mercado’s former live-in partner, Racquel Ambrosio, was found dead in 2002.
Binay said several media had carried the “malicious and baseless accusations” against him, including the Inquirer in its Nov. 19, 2014, issue under the headlines, “Only Ayalas didn’t give Binay condos” and “Only Ayala Corp. did not play ball in the sleazy ‘open secret’ property transactions in Makati City.”
‘Ill will and spite’
“Clear from the foregoing is that the damaging and ruinous claims spewed out by respondent Mercado are mere concoctions and fabrications with no other purpose than to malign, discredit, ruin my reputation and besmirch my good name as well as that of my family,” Binay said, noting that the “presumption of malice” applies because newspaper articles are “not privileged communication.”
Certeza said the series of libel complaints filed by the Vice President “shows his commitment to answer and refute the accusations against him in the proper forum in accordance with the rule of law.”
Binay said Mercado’s “libelous statements made in public” were “prompted by ill will and spite” as “they have no factual basis whatsoever and were not made in response to duty, but only with obvious intention to injure my reputation as well as those of my family.”
The Vice President said he “incurred the ire” of Mercado when he did not endorse his candidacy for mayor of Makati in the May 2010 elections, and instead fielded his son Junjun Binay, who won as Makati mayor. With a report by Nancy C. Carvajal
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