MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has ordered the filing of criminal charges against former vice president Jejomar Binay and his son, dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay for allegedly conspiring to rig the procurement of the P1.3-billion Makati Science High School Building on Kalayaan Avenue in Makati City.
In a press release issued Thursday, the Ombudsman said the Binays would be slapped with multiple counts of graft and falsification before the Sandiganbayan.
Morales indicated the elder Binay with four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act and three counts of falsification of public documents.
Binay Jr. is also set to face four counts of violation of Section 3(e) of R.A. No. 3019 and three counts of falsification of public documents.
The Binays’ co-accused are: Bids and Awards Committee (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; and city cashier Nelia Barlis. Criminal raps were also ordered to be filed against contractors Virginia Garcia of Infiniti Architectural Works, together with Efren Canlas and Julius Ramos of Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation.
Joey Salgado, the spokesperson of the Binays, criticized Morales’ move, saying “it once again underscores the selective prosecution of the Binays and the Ombudsman’s tendency to look the other way when other political personalities are involved.”
“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. The allegations have been answered, but apparently disregarded by the Ombudsman,” Salgado said in a statement issued Thursday.
“Former Vp 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,” he added.
On September 26, 2007, then Mayor Binay, Sr. entered into a P17.37 million Architectural & Engineering (A & E) consultancy services contract with Infiniti for the design of the Makati Science Building.
According to the Ombudsman, several irregularities were noted in the procurement of the A&E consultancy services such as the unjustified resort to negotiated procurement instead of competitive bidding, non-compliance with the required posting of the invitation to bid, and several misrepresentations regarding the alleged bid negotiations, submission and opening of bids.
“The Ombudsman observed that the project did not provide for a timeline or period within which the contractor must complete its services.”
According to the camp of the Binays, seven companies were invited to submit proposals during a negotiation conference on September 18, 2007.
The Ombudsman said the meeting with the bidders lasted only for an hour following which the Bids and Awards Committee decided to recommend the award to Infiniti. The next day, on September 19, 2007, Binay Sr. awarded the contract for the A & E services to Infiniti.
“Witnesses from two of the architectural firms which allegedly participated in the negotiation conference, however, executed affidavits denying that they joined the bid negotiations and submitted proposals for the project,” the Ombudsman said.
“They also denied having consented to the use of the names of their companies. Investigators observed that all the six other purported bidders tendered bids in excess of the Approved Budget for the Contract (ABC) and that only Infiniti submitted a bid within the ABC.”
‘Conspiracy, undue haste in awarding of contracts’
After the A&E phase of the project, respondents allegedly rigged the procurement processes for the construction of the Makati Science Building, which was divided into six phases from 2008 to 2013, all of which were awarded to Hilmarc’s Construction at a total net cost of P1.33 billion.
“This was made possible by respondents, acting in conspiracy, through the falsification of bidding documents, suppression of information to prospective bidders, and undue haste in the award of the contracts,” the Ombudsman said.
For phase 1 of the project, the chief operating officer of JBros Construction, an alleged bidder, submitted an affidavit to the Ombudsman “disowning the signatures appearing above the name on the bid documents” he purportedly submitted.
“Graft probers also uncovered that the alleged publications of the Invitation to Bid in phases 1, 2, 4 and 5 were fake. Certified true copies of the issues of Balita obtained from the National Library confirmed that no invitations to bid for the project were published in violation of procurement rules.”
According to the Ombudsman, “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.”
“In fact, no other bidder participated in the public biddings for phases 2, 4, 5 and 6,” Morales said.