The Office of the Ombudsman has ordered the dismissal of suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Park Building, on Oct. 9, Friday.
In a report by Rappler, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales orders the dismissal from service and perpetual disqualification of Binay from public office. She said the “strong evidence” presented during administrative adjudication “remained unrebutted.”
The Makati City Hall Park Building was awarded to the Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation even if there was no public bidding that took place. The Hilmarc was also the lone bidder in four out of the six phases of the said project.
The Ombudsman found irregularities in the design and architecture in several phases of the project worth P2.28 billion, undertaken from 2007 to 2013.
The decision said that the “documents established badges of fraud committed by Binay, Jr. et.al. in manipulating the procurement to ensure the award of the contract to Mana Architecture and Interior Design (MANA); processing and approving a series of four (4) payments totaling to P11.97 million despite the incomplete submission of deliverables such as design plans, working drawings, and technical specifications.”
The decision said that services of MANA was engaged even without public bidding in phase 1 and thus violated the Government Procurement Reform Act or Republic Act No. 9184.
The Ombudsman said that Binay had the “obligation to ensure that the contracts he was entering into were ‘fair, reasonable and advantageous to the government.’ Documents indicate that Binay approved the Bids and Awards Committee resolutions, notices of awards, contracts and payments,” the report said.
“By so acting, Binay intentionally closed his eyes to the irregularities by failing to observe utmost diligence,” the Ombudsman was quoted as saying in the article.
Along with Binay, the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal of 19 other Makati officials. The decision is immediately executory but Binay may file an appeal.
Meanwhile in another online news report, Binay’s camp said that the Ombudsman rushed the decision to keep him from running for re-election in 2016.
“(The) Ombudsman has been unmasked. The order was rushed because Monday is the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy for the 2016 election. Mayor Binay hasn’t even received a copy. This is dismissal by press release that the Office of the Ombudsman is doing,” Joey Salgado, spokesman of VP Binay was quoted as saying in the report.
Salgado said that Binay who belongs from the opposition, is being hastily removed from service though he just received one week ago the initial findings of the Special Audit into the City Hall Building 2 accounts. “And this is all in the face of an injunction from the Court of Appeals that froze the mayor’s suspension and even though the merits of the matter are still being heard in the Supreme Court,” Salgado continued.
Salgado said the decision is a political harassment “as shown by the manifest bias of the Office of the Ombudsman in conspiracy with other government instrumentalities, like the Senate, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, to pressure and block Vice-President Binay and his family from serving the poor.”
He said that no one can stop Binay from running in the 2016 election unless there has been a final judgment in the case.
The Malacañang, on the other hand, advised Binay to abide by the dismissal order.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said, “We respect the decision of the Office of the Ombudsman, being an independent office from the Executive. In undertaking its constitutionally-mandated role, it is incumbent on all parties to abide by the decision and to avail of the legal remedies provided under law.”
Mayor Binay is serving a six-month preventive suspension order also by the Ombudsman for the alleged overpricing of the Makati Science High School building. The recent decision of the Ombudsman also ordered the dismissal of Masbate Governor Rizalina Lañete.