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Impeach VP Binay–Governor Salceda

opinion / Columnists
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As I See It

Impeach VP Binay–Governor Salceda

/ 01:06 AM September 10, 2014

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda had that provocative message last Monday for the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel. Salceda was at the Kapihan to argue against the ban on provincial buses in Metro Manila, but when the debate on the allegedly overpriced P2.28-billion 11-story parking building in Makati between Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito  Atienza became heated and the governor was asked his opinion, he said: Impeach Binay and get it over with. There must be closure to the case before the 2016 election campaign.

The Senate hearings on the suspected kickbacks given to Vice President Jojo Binay when he was mayor of Makati is diverting attention from urgent issues such as countryside growth and urban traffic jams, Salceda said, adding:

“We’re interested in the results of the [Senate] investigation. But if you ask me, a lad from the province who regularly travels to Manila, from a cosmopolitan point of  view, my judgement call is really [for Binay] to be impeached.

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“The accusations are so gross. And therefore I’d rather go to the impeachment process…”

The senators have presented sufficient information on the allegations of overprice, and it is up to the House of Representatives to tackle any impeachment complaint if one is filed, Salceda also said. But until such a complaint is filed, the Senate blue ribbon committee should proceed with its inquiry, he said.

When Cayetano was asked if he would file the impeachment complaint, he replied that as he is sitting as a judge in the hearings, it would not be proper for him to be also the accuser. Atienza defended Binay, repeating what the Vice President’s camp has been saying again and again—that since the Office of the Ombudsman is looking into the case, the Senate should stop its own investigation.

Cayetano countered that the Binay camp just wants to delay the case. At the Office of the Ombudsman, the case can be delayed by numerous pleadings and postponements.

Atienza said that the contractor of the Makati parking building, Hilmarc’s, had testified that there was no overprice, that it compared the costs of other government buildings it had constructed and concluded that these were not far from the cost of the building in question.

* * *

At the last Senate hearing, Mario Hechanova, former head of the Makati General Services Department, testified that he and other city officials had been rigging the city government’s contracts.

Hechanova, who worked for the Makati government for 19 years, also told the Senate blue ribbon committee that contract-rigging was the practice in the city which has been controlled by the Binays since 1986. He said city officials had fixed the bidding for the parking building and other big-ticket projects to favor Hilmarc’s on the instructions of then Mayor Jojo Binay.

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Earlier, Ernesto Mercado, a former vice mayor of Makati, told the same Senate committee that he had benefited from the parking building. If the vice mayor benefited, he said, wouldn’t the mayor (Binay) benefit even more as he signs the pertinent documents?

The Binays dismissed the allegations with their mantra: “They’re all lies. Pulitika lang yan (It’s only politics).” Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s new spokesperson, even went on to brand Mercado, Hechanova, and deceased city engineer Nelson Morales as a corrupt trio that rigged city government contracts. He said the three city officials were “known” in Makati for rigging contracts.

* * *

The media play of the Binay camp is to distance the Vice President from the corrupt and illegal actions of the three former city officials. The media spin aims to convince the public that the three men had acted alone, without the consent of Binay, and that Binay is a saint who was unaware of the actions of his men.

Question: If the entire City of Makati knew of the illegal acts of the “corruption troika,” how come Binay, the mayor, did not know?

Elementary inference and deduction would inevitably put Binay as the grandmaster of the “corruption troika.”

The flaw in this media spin by Remulla is that it spawns more doubts than granules of credibility.

The then mayor must have been fully aware of the illegal acts of his three men and did not lift a finger to stop them because he was the “voice” that gave them the orders.

Now, if VP Binay would stubbornly insist that he is immaculately clean, then the public should be scared. If Binay, as then mayor of Makati, was oblivious of the acts of the very people he trusted to help him run the city government, what more if he becomes president?

Would his spokespeople and allies use the same alibi when two or three of his Cabinet members get entangled in a corruption scandal? Would he evade responsibility, like what he is doing now in the Makati “parkinggate”?

When, as mayor, he had no inkling of what his underlings were up to, what more of the doings of his Cabinet when he becomes president?

That is a very scary Palace scenario.

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TAGS: Ernesto Mercado, impeachment, Joey Salceda, Jonvic Remulla, Lito Atienza, Mario Hechanova, Office of the Ombudsman, Vice President Binay, VP Binay
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