Sandiganbayan denies Binay’s bid to be tried apart from son
MANILA — The Sandiganbayan has denied former Vice President Jejomar Binay’s bid for his graft and malversation cases to be tried in a court division separate from those trying his son, former Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
In a 12-page resolution dated Jan. 31, the court’s Third Division affirmed the propriety of consolidating the cases over alleged irregularities hounding the contracts for the P2.2-billion Makati City Hall carpark building during the two Binays’ successive mayoralties.
The denial of Binay Sr.’s motion follows a similar rejection by the same court of his wife Elenita’s attempt to have her own graft and malversation cases be re-raffled off to separate divisions.
It may be recalled that instead of raffling off the cases when they were filed in July 2016, the Sandiganbayan opted instead to consolidate the charges against Binay Sr. with those filed against his son five months earlier.
The court said that Section 22, Rule 119 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure granted it the discretion to determine the necessity of a joint trial.
It reiterated the raffle committee’s reasoning in July that the “sets of cases essentially emanate from similar or the same transactions. It also cited the need to avoid conflicting decisions down the road.
The resolution, penned by Justice Sarah Jane Fernandez, stated that Binay Sr. “failed to present any justifiable reason” to rule the consolidation erroneous.
It added that the administration of justice would be “better served” if only one trial were conducted on the carpark cases before one court.
The 11 co-defendants of Binay Sr., including successor Binay Jr., will “benefit from the ‘simplification, not confusion, of procedure; economy, not waste, of time, energy and expense,'” the resolution read.
In arguing for a separate trial, Binay Sr. disagreed that the cases arose from similar incidents. His criminal cases concerned Phases 1 to 3 of construction until 2010, when his son became mayor and took charge of Phases 4 and 5 of the project.
The elder Binay claimed his right to speedy trial would be violated because he would have to be exposed to “numerous testimonies that are irrelevant or immaterial to him.”
Binay Sr. was only charged months later than his son when he lost his immunity upon exiting the vice presidency. He faces four counts of graft, one count of malversation, and nine counts of falsification of public documents.
The Office of the Ombudsman accused the elder Binay, in conspiracy with several other city officials, of awarding the design contract to Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. without public bidding. Mana received P11 million in payments despite its alleged failure to deliver the approved plans and specifications under the contract, prosecutors said.
Likewise, the elder Binay was also accused of conspiring with city officials to award three contracts worth P1.486 billion to Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. for Phases 1 to 3 of the project through a supposedly rigged bidding.
Binay Jr. was a co-accused for the cases involving the design contract awarded to Mana and the Phase 3 of the building’s construction awarded to Hilmarc’s. At the time of these allegations, the son was a councilor of the city’s first district.
The denial of the elder Binay’s motion came less than a month after the same court division on Jan. 13 rejected his wife’s bid for her four graft and malversation cases over overpriced hospital supplies to be re-raffled off to separate divisions. SFM
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