MANILA (Mabuhay) – Former Makati vice-mayor Ernesto Mercado claimed Wednesday that a P15.6 million log cabin in a luxurious residential community in Tagaytay belongs to Vice President Jejomar Binay. Binay’s spokesman, however, denied the claim.
Speaking before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing probing the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building II, Mercado said the P15.6 million property was acquired by the vice president when he was still mayor of Makati.
He claimed the home is not included in Binay’s Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth.
Mercado said the three-bedroom log cabin is located at The Woodlands in Tagaytay Highlands, which is developed by Belle Corp.
One of the documents presented by Mercado in the hearing was a reservation letter for the property dated January 31, 1997.
The letter, addressed to then Mayor Binay, read, “We are pleased to inform you that you have been allocated a Redwood type 3-bedroom unit at The Woodlands at Tagaytay Highlands. The purchase price is P15,600,000.”
Twenty percent of the purchase price, or P3.12 million, was to be paid for the signing of the reservation agreement, while 5% of the purchase price, or P780,000, was to be paid monthly starting March 4, 1997, and every 15th day of the month thereafter until the delivery of the unit.
Another memo dated May 9, 1997, meanwhile, showed that a 10-percent discount was obtained for the purchase of the property. In the same memo, a note which reads “TO M1: Your copy on the price and schedule of payments. Gerry,” is written.
Mercado said M1 refers to Binay, while Gerry is Gerardo Limlingan, whom the former vice mayor earlier accused of being the vice-president’s bagman and dummy.
“Ipinasa niya iyang sulat na iyan kay Mr. Limlingan para si Mr. Limlingan ang mag-ayos,” he said.
“Sasabihin na naman nila, ‘Ah hindi akin yan. Kay Gerry Limlingan iyan.’ Pero makikita niyo, iyan ang mga monthly payment at ang bumibili ng nag-babayad po eh si Mr. Limlingan.”
According to the former Makati vice mayor, who once belonged to the vice-president’s inner circle, Limlingan bought a manager’s check from the Philippine National Bank with 8514 Kaong St. San Antonio Village, Makati as his address.
The check, meanwhile, was to be paid to Henry Sy Jr., whose family became majority owners of Belle Corp. in 2010.
Mercado said the address indicated in the manager’s check is the known residence of the vice president.
“Kita niyo ang address nung bumili si Limlingan? Ang address eh address sa bahay ni Vice President Binay,” Mercado said.
Binay’s camp has categorically denied owning the Tagaytay property.
A Philippine Daily Inquirer report earlier quoted Binay spokesman Joey Salgado as saying that the letter of Belle Corp. to Binay dated Jan. 31, 1997 was not proof of ownership “because it is a mere general letter of invitation to any prospective buyer.”
He added that Binay’s alleged ownership of a log cabin at Tagaytay Highlands can easily be verified with the company concerned.
Billing statements, receipts
Another set of documents presented by Mercado were billing statements and receipts from the Tagaytay Highlands International Golf Club.
Mercado said the billing statements and receipts bore the signatures of no less than Binay’s wife, Elenita, and his daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay.
He said these prove that the Binay family indeed owns the Tagaytay property.
“Ang pumirma dyan eh si Dra. Elenita Binay, na asawa ni Mayor Jejomar Binay, na ngayon eh bise presidente ng ating bansa. Sunod-sunod ang billing na iyan at sunod-sunod ang mga resibo,” he said.
“Hindi ko po alam kung paanong pasisinungalingan iyan ng ating bise presidente. Sa mga exclusive na lugar na ganyan, para magkaroon ng pribilehiyo ng magamit ang clubhouse, kailangan eh meron kang unit.”
Aside from the Tagaytay property and membership to its golf club, Mercado said Binay also has shares in the Makati Sports Club and Manila Polo Club.
He said these are not declared in the vice-president’s SALNs as well.
Mercado said in one instance, Binay allegedly wrote a note in one of the billing statements for the Makati Sports Club, which read “Bakit may utang tayo? Please find time and go to Makati Sports Club.”
Mercado said the note was addressed to Ebeng, the nickname of Binay’s alleged former executive assistant, Eduviges Baloloy.
For his part, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, described Mercado’s claim as “baseless and malicious.”
“A billing statement is not proof of ownership as claimed by Mr. Mercado especially when the authenticity of the signatures can be disputed. Until now Mr. Mercado cannot provide documents proving actual ownership and the company mentioned has already denied having any records of ownership.
In previous hearings, Mercado accused Binay of owning various undeclared properties, including a 350-hectare lot in Rosario, Batangas and a 8,877-square-meter lot in Comembo, Makati estimated to be worth over P1 billion, among others. (MNS)