Ex-Makati vice mayor fears for his life after exposing issues vs Binay

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014


FORMER Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado testified against his former close ally Vice President Jejomar Binay at the resumption of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee into the issues surrounding the Makati City hall building 2.

Mercado said he had been receiving threats since 2012 and he noticed that there have been people following him and his wife and in several instances, they saw some people monitoring their movement.

"Kilala ko ang kaibigan ko. Matagal din naman ang pinagsamahan namin," he said referring to Binay who was former mayor of Makati City.

Mercado said he already prepared a letter for his family in November of 2012 where he pointed to the family of Binay as the possible suspect should he face an untimely death.

"Sa aking pamilya at sa kinauukulan, nitong mga nakaraang araw ay napapansin ko na may sumusunod-sunod sa aking mga lakad. Kung sakali po na may mangyayari sa akin ng masama, wala po kayong uusigin na iba, wala pong gagawa sa akin ng masama kundi ang pamilya Binay lamang," Mercado said.

Mercado showed the letter he has been keeping in his wallet since 2012 a similar handwritten copy of which he also made for his wife and child.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano brought up the threat to the former vice mayor after lawyer Renato Bondal earlier made a declaration that they want to be under the Witness Protection Program of the government due to unidentified people allegedly following them and their families.

The former vice mayor was tagged as a very close friend of Binay but their relationship, he admitted turned "sour" due to some personal reason.

"Hindi ko po kayang maging rubber stamp lamang kung kaya't nuong nagpadala po sa akin ng emisaryo at nagsabing may kondisyon si (former mayor) Mrs. Elenita Binay bago payagan na makaupo ako na Mayor ng Makati. Dapat daw ay wala akong gagalawin sa kanilang mga tao at wala rin akong desisyon na hindi dadaan sa kanila. Tumanggi na ako," Mercado said, as he clarified that he cannot follow the conditions that Mrs. Binay has given him.

According to Mercado, Vice President Binay offered him to be his successor as Makati mayor but the latter did not make true to his promise and instead let his son, Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr., succeed him.

"Nangako po siya sa aking ama nuon na malapit ng mamamatay. At bagamat duda ako dahil marami na siyang binigyan ng pangako na hindi naman lahat natupad ay naniwala pa rin ako dahil sadyang magkaibigan kaming tunay," Mercado said.

"Sa katunayan nga ay galit na galit sa akin nuon si dating President Gloria Arroyo dahil pinanindigan ko ang pagtanggi na palitan ang aking kaibigan na si Binay bilang Mayor kahit mayroon na itong suspension dahil sa kasong isinampa laban sa kanya. Pinasusumpa ako bilang Mayor nuon ni GMA pero hindi ko ginawa. Mas pinili ko ang pagkakaibigan namin," he added.

Mercado said he was surprised on the description of Makati City hall building 2, which was originally Makati Parking Building.

Moreover, he said he was surprised that from P1.2 billion budget, the amount had reached to P2.7 billion. Meaning, the amount had ballooned up to P1.5 billion.

However, Mercado also admitted in the session that he benefitted from the project.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV during the questioning asked Mercado if he also had his fair share in the controversial overpriced Makati City Hall building 2, which he replied: "Hindi po ako pwedeng magsinungaling. Pagtatawanan po ako rito. Kumita din. 'Yan naman ang kalakaran. Sa phase 1 and 2 nakinabang po ako."

"If the vice mayor benefited from it, perhaps mayor Binay also benefited from the same project," he added.

Mercado who was a long time ally of the Binays maintained that it is impossible for the mayor and now Vice President Binay not to get anything from the said project.

The former vice mayor said the ordinances and appropriations for Makati projects did not have the specific amount and was usually made in lump sums without specifications.

He also questioned the names of those councilors and officials whose names were included in the approved ordinances even if they were not present during the deliberation and approval.

"If that will be allowed (to make us authors), there will be no one to question and amend the ordinance," he said.

"I doubt the explanation of expenditure; there was no amount allocated on the projects," Mercado said, referring to the roster of twelve projects with an allocation of P2-billion.

Mercado also admitted that the Binays also carried good programs like the distribution of cakes to senior citizens, and the burial help they are extending to Makati residents.

He also pointed to Senator Nancy Binay as the one supervising the cake distribution and the technical assistant of her mother Dr. Binay.

"Alam ng lahat ng taga Makati na si Senator Binay ang gumagawa ng cake noon di pa siya senadora. Siya po ang nagsusupervise bilang technical assistant ng kaniyang ina," Mercado said.

For her part, Senator Binay belied the allegations hurled against her and the Binay family particularly to his father.

"I deny in the strongest terms possible and condemn the malicious claim of former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado that I have economic or financial interest in the supply of cakes for senior citizens at the Makati City Hall," she said.

The senator said Mercado is a left and right gambler and was even seen in different casino outlets as well as in Las Vegas, USA.

Mercado admitted he is fond of sabong (cockfight) and has been going to some casinos but not necessarily gambling left and right as described by Senator Binay.

"Hindi ko naman i de deny na mahilig ako sa sabong at kung minsan nagpupunta ako sa mga casino para manood din. Pero hindi po totoong lulong ako sa sugal. Sasagutin ko po ang lahat ng mga paratang ng mga Binay sa tamang forum," said Mercado.

Senator Binay said they treated Mercado as part of the family.

"Pinagkatiwalaan ng aking ama si dating Vice Mayor Mercado. Ang trato sa kanya ay parang kapatid na ng aking ama. Ang sinukli ni Mr. Mercado ay ang abusuhin ang tiwala ng aking ama. Umamin siya na nakinabang sa City Hall building 2, at pilit niyang idinadamay ang aking ama. Madaling magdamay ng ibang tao at manira ng pangalan," she said.

Senator Binay said she has never been involved, and will never be involved in any activity that violates rules on conflict of interests particularly in businesses relating to the Makati City government.

She said she does not know how to bake, has no bakeshop, and is aware that supplying the goods to City Hall, where her family member was in charge, is "against the law".

During the hearing last week, Bondal claimed the cake cost P1,000 each but when asked by Senator Vicente Sotto III if he can prove his allegations, Bondal merely said: "Ang akin po ay hula lamang (mine is just a mere guess)."

In Tuesday afternoon's session, Senator Trillanes praised the former vice mayor on his bravery to expose the truth behind the controversial issue. Mercado, however, said that the Senate should not congratulate him but instead the chamber should protect him.

"Congratulation is not the right term to say because anything bad might be possible to happen after I leave (in the hearing)," he said, requesting the committee to make him safe and secured.

Meanwhile, COA Chief Grace Pulido-Tan asked for at least one week to tackle the special auditing of the said building as she confirmed that they are having a hard time looking for credible and qualified people to do the review and inspection.

Senator Trillanes said he expects transparency and the senate blue ribbon will wait for the official findings of COA.

Both Senator Trillanes and Aquilino Pimentel III urged the need for COA to expedite the special audit being conducted on the said project.(With Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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