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'Hacienda Binay as big as half of San Juan City'

The 350-hectare property in Batangas province allegedly owned by the Binays. Screengrab from Ernesto Mercado's video presentation

MANILA, Philippines - Man-made lagoons, an air-conditioned piggery and a British palace garden are among the facilities inside the alleged 350-hectare "Hacienda Binay" in Rosario, Batangas, a former ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay claimed on Wednesday.

Testifying again at a Senate hearing, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado stood by his allegations that Binay owns a 350-hectare agricultural estate in Barangay Maligaya in Rosario town despite earlier denials by the Vice President that he owns such property.

Mercado showed to the senators aerial photos of the estate, which he said is equivalent to six Luneta Parks or 10 Cubaos or Araneta Centers. It is also as big as half of San Juan City, he said.

He alleged that the entire property is worth P1.2 billion and its estimated monthly maintenance and operation cost is P4 million.

Built on the estate is a mansion with resort pool, a 40-car garage and staff house and a mansion with British palace garden, which was based on the design of the Kew Garden in London.

"Kung hindi ko po siguro sinasabing sa Batangas 'yan ay hindi niyo po iisipin na dito sa Pilipinas 'yan," Mercado said of the property.

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"Mataas ang pangarap ng ating Mayora dahil ang feeling yata ay magiging First Lady na siya ng Pilipinas sa darating na halalan," he also said, referring to former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay, the Vice President's wife.

Mercado claimed that the estate has a fighting cock farm, a horse ranch, an imported orchid farm, man-made lagoons and 20 air-conditioned piggery houses.

"Ayaw ho kasi ni Dra. nang nakakaamoy ng mabaho at ayaw din ho ng langaw na lumilipad-lipad sa kanilang mansion," Mercado said of the air-conditioned piggery.

Earlier, Binay's camp claimed that the lessor of the property is Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corp., operator of Sunchamp Agri-Tourism Park.

Joey Salgado, Binay's head of media affairs, reiterated that Binay's JCB Farms only used to be a mere tenant of Sunchamp Park. But since 2010, Salgado said Binay had divested himself of his interest in JCB Farms.

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