New suspension for Mayor Binay

Posted on June 30, 2015

THE OFFICE of the Ombudsman issued a new order suspending Makati Mayor Erwin Jejomar “Junjun” S. Binay, Jr. and 14 other city officials, this time over the alleged overprice of the Makati Science High School building.

In a statement released late Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales announced that the anti-graft body ordered a six-month suspension against Mr. Binay and incumbent city personnel pending investigation of the P1.35-billion schoolbuilding. Mr. Binay and others are facing seven sets of administrative cases for committing supposed lapses in public bidding.

Based on the initial probe of the special panel of investigators, “there is a showing that respondents mutually aided one another in rigging and pre-arranging” the procurement and award of seven service contracts to two “pre-selected” builders Infiniti Architectural Works and Hilmarc’s Construction Corp.

The charges stem from the “irregular” award of building contracts to the two firms from 2007 to 2014, which altogether led to a construction cost of more than P1 billion.

Others suspended personnel are Pio Kenneth I. Dasal, Lorenza P. Amores, Leonila D.G. Querijero, Raydes B. Pestaño, Cecilio P. Lim III, Eleno M. Mendoza, Nelia A. Barlis, Ralph E. Liberato, Giovanni I. Condes, Manolito N. Uyaco, Ulysses E. Orienza, Gerardo K. San Gabriel, Mario V. Badillo, and Norman D. Flores, who are all employed by the Makati City government.

The preventive suspension issued was to stop the officials from possibly using their government positions to interfere with the ongoing investigation, Ms. Carpio-Morales said.

Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay, who served as Makati mayor before his son, is also tagged in the complaint, but could not be covered by the suspension order as he can only be removed from his post through impeachment.

In a statement, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said it would serve the suspension order against the Makati mayor and his staff: “This stands as a lawful order of the Ombudsman, a constitutionally created and independent office of the Republic.”

“The Department is duty-bound to implement the said order in the most expeditious and peaceable way. It shall do so through its appropriate officials assisted by the PNP (Philippine National Police) as necessary,” it said.

Last March, the Ombudsman issued a six-month suspension against the younger Mr. Binay and 20 others for the alleged overpricing the 11-storey Makati City Parking Building, also supposedly done without proper bidding.

But Mr. Binay secured a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals on the suspension. The Ombudsman, however, elevated the case to the Supreme Court and was subjected to oral arguments. The high court has yet to issue a ruling on the first suspension order.

The Binay camp, however, dismissed the second suspension as another demolition job, though not responding to the accusations.

“This precipitate and unduly harsh action demonstrates the undue haste and priority given to investigations against the Vice-President and his family, while pussyfooting on the anomalies perpetrated by Liberal Party and administration allies,” Mr. Binay’s spokesperson Rico Paolo R. Quicho said in an e-mailed statement.

“The Vice-President will not be cowed by this act of harassment from Malacanang.” -- M. L. T. Lopez, A. M. Monzon and E. E. Escaño