SENATOR Antonio Trillanes IV asked Monday the Senate Blue Ribbon committee to conduct an investigation on the alleged overpriced construction of buildings involving the 11-storey Makati City Hall parking building and the 22-storey Makati City hall building.

"The Filipino people have the right to information especially on matters involving alleged graft, corruption, and plunder of high officials and at all levels of government," Trillanes' Resolution 826 stated referring to plunder case filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay as former mayor of the business district.

"It is the foremost duty of the Philippine legislature to ensure that bidding and procurement procedures contain safeguards against misuse of public funds for illicit personal gain, as well as, to ensure that public funds are used to benefit the Filipino people," he added.

On July 22, plunder and graft charges were filed against Binay, then-Makati mayor; his son Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Jun-Jun" Binay; and 23 others; due to alleged "unconscionable overpricing" in the construction of an 11-storey parking building that the City Government supposedly built for P1.56 billion, which should be P798,200,000.00 as the reasonable cost of construction based on the present construction standards for high-end commercial buildings of the National Statistics Office.

According to Resolution 826, the actual payments for the said building as of 31 December 2013, per the Commission on Audit (COA) Report of 17 February 2014, already amounts to a total of P2,367,679,633.95, with the building contract split into five phases in violation of existing procurement. Only one contractor “miraculously” won all five contracts.

Trillanes said the City of Makati actually spent around to P2.4 billion for the said building, thus, placing the actual overpriced sum in the amount of P 1.601 billion.

He added that this overpriced amount could have built more than 3,000 classrooms, inclusive of toilets and furniture.

"The P2.4 billion cost of the 11-storey Makati City carpark building is indeed shocking when compared to the cost even the most luxurious buildings in the country like the 46-storey Shang Grand Tower, the 19th tallest in the country, which was built for only P2 billion," Trillanes said.

The resolution also stated the alleged overprice in the construction cost of the 22-storey Makati City Hall building constructed by the City of Makati in the 1990's, which amounted to an average cost of P240,000.00 per square meter, is even more "shocking, outrageous and unconscionable."

"This far exceeds by a whopping P100,000.00 per square meter the total cost of the two-storey housing units built by the National Housing Authority (NHA) for soldiers and policemen under the AFP/PNP Housing Project initiated by President Benigno Aquino III, which is pegged at P140,000.00 per unit," Trillanes added.

The resolution also called for an investigation into persistent reports on the alleged misuse of local government funds for programs to boost the national campaign of a former local executive by funding his trips, and hosting visiting local government executives; a purported P230 million infomercial campaign, which started in 2009, using Makati funds; bogus projects and ghost employees; blatant and brazen overpricing and bid rigging; among others.

The said alleged anomalies, Trillanes said, constitute blatant misuse if not grave abuse and misappropriation of public funds under the leaderships of Vice President Binay as former mayor of the city and currently sitting Mayor Jun-Jun Binay.

"This exercise of oversight function of the Senate will give the Vice President a chance to clear his name, if he is indeed innocent. If not, then it is high time that the Filipino people will get to know more about this person who is aspiring to be the next president of this country," Trillanes said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)