Taguig dares Binay: Show proof of overpricing

Mike Frialde - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Taguig City government is daring Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. and his camp to show proof that the city government bought overpriced 18 rescue vehicles using the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, an official said yesterday.

Taguig spokesman Darwin Icay, a city councilor, also said the city government is open to being investigated on the issue involving the rescue vehicles, which Binay alleged to have been refurbished when they were bought.

“The Binay camp is free to check the figures released by the (Commission on Audit or) COA in their reports. Instead, they distort these facts and figures to mislead the public and destroy the reputation of the Cayetanos,” he said.

Binay, in an earlier statement, said that based on a Feb. 28, 2013 report showing the utilization of Cayetano’s PDAF, a total of P9 million was allotted for the purchase of 18 multi-cabs. The same report showed actual expenses to be P8.96 million, which meant that each unit had cost P498,000.

Icay said the COA did not question the purchase of 18 brand new rescue vehicles, which was indeed funded by the senator’s PDAF.

Icay said Taguig’s efforts to offer free education, quality health care, and create jobs was made possible by the city government’s efforts to curb corruption.

 “We’ll address any questions from the Binay front group, and hope that they are honest with the Filipino people about their connections to Binay, and their agenda,” Icay said.

Lawyer Roderick Vera filed plunder and graft complaints against the senator and his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, with the Office of the Ombudsman on Monday.

The mayor and 16 incumbent and former councilors were charged for their alleged involvement in the hiring of 3,188 casual workers in 2012 and the vehicle purchase while the senator faced graft charges for alleged unexplained wealth.

According to Icay, Vera was reportedly a classmate of Makati second district Rep. Mar-Len Abigail Binay at the Ateneo College of Law.

No ‘ghost employees’

Icay said the COA report dated Dec. 21, 2012, used as the basis for the plunder complaint against the mayor, never mentioned that the 3,188 job order (JO) personnel hired by the city were “ghost employees.”

“The COA did not invalidate the hiring of JOs, it being a lawful prerogative of the city of Taguig. They are not ghost employees. They are flesh-and-blood persons rendering vital social services to the city’s constituents. The COA itself acknowledged that the amount spent for the JO personnel allowed the city to augment the present workforce,” he said.

Icay, quoting the COA report, said the state auditors verified that the JO personnel “were actually assigned to different offices in the absence or lack of regular personnel performing regular functions.”

He described the case filed by Vera before the ombudsman as nothing more than a diversion of the investigation of the Senate into the P2-billion corruption case involving the Makati City Hall Building 2 as the complaint was filed on the same day the Senate Blue Ribbon hearing was held.

Icay added that contrary to Vera’s allegation, the COA stated that the JO employees hired by the Taguig City government went through biometric daily time records and that manual time records were provided for those who did not use biometrics.

He said that it was never stated in the COA report that Taguig City had failed to regularize its employees, nor did it say that the contractualization of the employees was done to circumvent security of tenure and giving of benefits.

“Management justified that job order services are needed to implement and facilitate its various programs though, the city is now considering the revision of the existing plantilla positions to address the said concern. However, it will entail a lot of time due to Civil Service requirements and procedures,” Icay quoted the COA report as saying.











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