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Binay camp questions gov’t protection for Mercado, lawyer

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - September 14, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday questioned the decision of the Department of Justice (DOJ) placing former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Renato Bondal under the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).

Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, spokesman for Binay, questioned the credibility of Mercado and Bondal.

The DOJ had placed the two under WPP upon the request of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee. 

“We find it highly deplorable for the Senate leadership to use its authority to recommend for WPP coverage the detractors of the Vice President with questionable morals and dubious reliability,” Remulla said. 

He said Bondal had admitted in one of the Senate hearings that he gave an untruthful statement under oath.

“He said Makati’s cakes for senior citizens were overpriced at P1,000 per cake. When shown official documents that the cakes cost only P300 each, Bondal admitted that he merely guessed its price,” Remulla said.

He said Mercado has not provided any evidence to support his accusations that Binay had pocketed millions in kickbacks from the allegedly overpriced Makati parking building.

The former vice mayor had admitted that he received kickbacks from the project, Remulla said.

“Such admission qualifies Mercado as the most guilty. Yet, taxpayers are paying for his protection,” he said.

“The DOJ should not tolerate his gambling habit to the point that it will provide security for Mercado each time he visits casinos or cockpits to gamble. This will be a disservice to the WPP and a total waste of taxpayers’ money, all to advance the political demolition agenda of two senators,” he added.

Binay won’t cut ties with Noy

There is no truth to rumors that Binay will hold a news conference tomorrow to announce that he will cut his ties with President Aquino, Navotas City Rep. Tobias Tiangco, secretary general of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said yesterday.

Tiangco said Binay will answer today the corruption allegations being hurled against him.

“Those rumors are just disinformation spread by his political enemies to sow intrigue, for whatever agenda or motives that are not good for our countrymen,” he said.

He said there are no details yet as to the venue but the news conference will likely happen this afternoon.

Text messages circulated that the Vice President will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce his resignation from the Aquino Cabinet.

The lawmaker said the Senate probe on the Makati parking building was timed during the conduct of the surveys by various poll outfits in an attempt to pull down Binay’s high ratings.

“It’s obvious that the Senate investigation is meant to destroy him. I was informed that the Vice President received his invitation to appear in the investigation just hours after the investigation was finished on Thursday,” Tiangco said.

Meanwhile, a stalwart of UNA warned that administration lawmakers pushing for Binay’s impeachment could face the “wrath of the people.”

“Why only now? It must be politically motivated. Anyway, impeachment is a legal but also a political process. Those who abuse it will answer to the people come election time,” Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting said.

“This is plain and simple politics, especially he remains the frontrunner in the presidential polls,” he said.

Tambunting said Binay’s detractors could not use the allegations as basis to impeach him, as the carpark building was constructed when he was mayor of Makati seven years ago.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, a member House committee on justice, said talks to impeach Binay will not only waste government resources, but also divide the nation.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, leader of the Visayan bloc and a stalwart of the ruling Liberal Party, blamed politicking ahead of the 2016 presidential polls as behind the controversies against Binay.

Benitez said the Office of the Ombudsman should conduct investigation on the allegations against the Vice President so that Congress can continue its legislative work.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano urged individuals who had any experience with corrupt practices while dealing with the city government of Makati at the time Binay was still mayor to come forward and testify.

Cayetano believes that businessman Mario Lichauco Jr., who testified before the Senate Blue Ribbon committee last Thursday, was not the only one who had some “horror” stories about the city government of Makati.

Lichauco told the committee that he was trapped inside one of the elevators of the Makati City Hall for over an hour on his way to submit bid documents for firefighting equipment seven years ago.

Former Makati City Bids and Awards Committee vice chairman Mario Hechanova told the Senate that the elevator was deliberately stopped so that the bidder could not submit the required documents on time.

Hechanova claimed that the bidding procedures for infrastructure projects of the city government of Makati were rigged so that only Hilmarc’s Construction Corp. would win.

Cayetano urged other businessmen who went through similar experiences to come forward and testify.       – With Paolo Romero, Marvin Sy

AKO BICOL BINAY MAKATI MERCADO REMULLA SENATE SENATE BLUE RIBBON VICE VICE PRESIDENT
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