Philippine VP Faces Corruption Accusations
Jejomar Binay is not only the current Philippine Vice President, but also eyed to be the strongest contender for the presidency in 2016 elections. Even before the start of the campaign period, however, Binay is already being challenged to prove himself to be worthy of heading the country. The country’s VP is being dragged in a corruption controversy – one that is seen to have a huge impact on his willingness to take the country’s highest seat.
Ernesto Mercado, former Vice Mayor of Makati, denounces the involvement of Binay in the over-pricing of a Makati parking building. According to Mercado, the building was supposed to have a face value of only 1.2 billion pesos and not 2.3 billion pesos. Mercado admitted that he himself received kickback from the project, rendering it impossible that Binay did not earn from it.
Justifying the High Cost
During Senate hearings, several people have been invited in order to assess the value of the building and to know on whether or not it was overpriced. As per the complainants, the 11-story building being questioned has an allocated cost of 45,000 pesos per square meter. It was compared to high end residential buildings, such as the 57-story Greenbelt Residences with a cost of 45,000 pesos per square meter and the Shang Grand Tower, a 46-story luxury condominium with a cost of 40,000 pesos per square meter.
According to the camp of Binay, on the other hand, the construction costs surged into such a huge amount because of the emphasis on quality. Aside from being built in a manner that is environmentally-friendly, it also has a strong foundation and used the best materials in order to make it resilient and to be assured that it will not be easily damaged by any calamity the city will face in the near future.
Binay came into his defense and noted how all of the corruption charges against him are all politically motivated. He also claimed that the building is world class, which justifies such a high cost for its construction. He also cited a reported from the Commission on Audit (COA) proving that the building is not overpriced. COA, however, claimed that while they have indeed initially vindicated Makati’s local government, the report is not yet final.
Several calls have been made to invite Binay to a Senate inquiry in order to shed light to the issue. The VP, however, denied accepting the invitations, believing that it is only going to give his opponents the chance to attack him. Two of the current Philippine senators, Trillanes and Cayetano, have earlier expressed their intentions to also run for presidency in 2016. The two were also the most active in accusing Binay and his family of corruption charges. Other senators, however, have expressed that there is no more need to call the Vice President for the inquiry, citing that reports from the COA and witnesses will be more than enough to build their case.