Binays ordered charged with graft over P1.3-B Makati Science HS building mess
(Updated, 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.)
Former vice president Jejomar Binay Sr. and his son, dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay Jr., are set to face criminal charges of graft, and falsification of public documents charges for the allegedly anomalous procurement in the construction of the P1.3-billion Makati Science High School Building.
In a statement Thursday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said she has ordered the filing of criminal charges against the Binays for allegedly conspiring to rig the procurement of the 10-storey science high school building on Kalayaan avenue in Makati.
In two separate Resolutions approved on Aug. 1, Morales indicted Binay Sr. with four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, as well as three counts of Falsification of Public Documents.
Meanwhile, Binay Jr. was ordered charged with four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of the anti-graft law, and three counts of Falsification.
In a statement sent to reporters, Binay’s spokesperson Joey Salgado said the Binays’ indictment came as no surprise especially from the Ombudsman which he accused of launching a “witchhunt” against the Binays.
During the election campaign, Binay’s camp accused the Ombudsman of being a “tool” of the Liberal Party to politically persecute the vice president, who then had ambitions to run for president for the 2016 polls. He lost the race.
“The Ombudsman has time and again disregarded her agency’s internal rules, due process and Constitutional rights to pursue her witch hunt against former VP Binay and his family. Her recent move comes as no surprise,” Salgado said.
“Former vice president Jojo Binay and former mayor Junjun are confident that in a fair and impartial trial, they will be able to clear their names and dispute the baseless charges of a patently biased Ombudsman,” Salgado said.Binay Sr.’s graft indictment stemmed from the 2007 architectural and engineering consultancy services contract worth P17.37 million with Infiniti for the design of the Makati Science Building.
Ombudsman investigation noted irregularities in the procurement: unjustified resort to negotiated procurement instead of competitive bidding, non-compliance with the required posting of the invitation to bid, and misrepresentations on the alleged bid negotiations, submission and opening of bids.
The Ombudsman also observed that the project “did not provide for a timeline or period within which the contractor must complete its services.”
While the Binays said seven companies were invited to submit proposals during a negotiation conference, the supposed Sept. 18, 2007 meeting with bidders lasted only for an hour, followed by the Bids and Awards Committee’s (BAC) decision to recommend the award of contract to Infiniti.
The next day, or on Sept 19, Binay Sr. awarded the agricultural and engineering consultancy services contract to Infiniti.
Two architectural firms also denied joining the bid negotiations and denied agreeing the use of the names of their companies.
Ombudsman investigators also noted that the six other purported bidders tendered bids in excess of the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC), while only Infiniti submitted a bid within the approved budget.
Besides the architectural design, the Binays allegedly rigged the procurement processes for the construction of the Makati Science Building divided into six phases from 2008 to 2012, covering the mayoralty terms of the two Binays.
Binay Sr. served as Makati mayor from 2001 to 2010. He was elected vice president in 2010. Binay Jr. was Makati mayor in 2010 until he was dismissed from service in 2015.
The construction contracts with a total worth of P1.33 billion were all awarded to Hilmarc’s Construction, riddled with irregularities such as falsified bidding documents, suppressed information to prospective bidders, and undue haste in the award of contracts, the Ombudsman said.
“Hilmarc’s was placed on higher footing than any potential bidders who, by lack of publication of the [invitation] in newspapers of general circulation and by the limited time of posting in the PhilGEPS, City’s website or conspicuous places, were deprived of sufficient chance to participate in the biddings,” Morales said in her resolution, noting that no other bidder participated in the phases 2, 4, 5 and 6.
The chief operating officer of JBros Construction submitted an affidavit denying the signatures above the bid documents allegedly submitted during the bidding for phase 1, the Ombudsman said.
Graft investigators also uncovered allegedly fake publication of the invitations to bid for the phases, 1, 2, 4 and 5 in the newspapers.
Certified true copies of issues of “Balita” newspaper from the National Library showed that there were no invitations to bid published, in violation of procurement rules, the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman also noted the following flawed procurement process – non-submission of architectural design and engineering plans at the time of the bidding process, no records of completion of architectural design and engineering plans before the publication of the invitations to bid for Phase 2, among others.
“This logically shows that the public biddings were nothing but a sham,” the Ombudsman said.
The Ombudsman also found Binay, Jr. guilty of the administrative offenses of Serious Dishonesty, Grave Misconduct and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of the Service, and thus ordered his dismissal from the service which carries the accessory penalties of perpetual disqualification from public office, cancellation of eligibility, forfeiture of retirement benefits and bar from taking the civil service examination.
Since Binay Jr. had been ordered dismissed, his penalty is equivalent to his one year’s worth of salary.
Also charged with the Binays are BAC Chairpersons Marjorie De Veyra and Eleno Mendoza, Jr.; BAC members Pio Kenneth Dasal, Lorenza Amores, Ulysess Orienza, Gerardo San Gabriel and Mario Badillo; BAC Secretariat members Giovanni Condes, Manolito Uyaco, Norman Flores and Ralph Liberato; Rodel Nayve of the BAC Technical Working Group; city accountants Leonila Querijero, Cecilio Lim III and Raydes Pestaño; city cashier Nelia Barlis; Virginia Garcia of Infiniti Architectural Works; and Efren Canlas and Julius Ramos of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation.
The two Binays already face multiple graft, malversation, and falsification of public document charges before the Sandiganbayan over the anomalous construction of the P2.2-billion Makati car park building.
Binay Sr. ran but lost in the 2016 presidential elections. IDL
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