Senator Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV speaks with Former Makati Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado and Engr. Mario Hechanova. (MNS photo)

Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV speaks with Former Makati Vice Mayor Nestor Mercado and Engr. Mario Hechanova. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Nov 18 (Mabuhay) — Former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado on Tuesday voluntarily surrendered to the government a part of the 350-hectare property in Rosario, Batangas, which is registered under his name.

At the resumption of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing, Mercado submitted a sworn statement saying he is “voluntarily surrendering” the land for distribution under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

Mercado earlier claimed that Vice President Jejomar Binay used him as a dummy and put a four-hectare land which was part of the sprawling Batangas property under his name.

Critics of the Vice President have alleged that the controversial Batangas property is owned by Binay. The Vice President has denied the allegations.

Mercado said he made the decision in reaction to an earlier suggestion by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, who chairs the subcommittee, for the former Makati local official to donate the land to the government.

Earlier, Pimentel said Mercado, a former Binay ally who became the Vice President’s chief accuser, has “everything to gain and nothing to lose” by donating to the government the 4.5-hectare property.

“Such a goodwill on the part of the crusading former Makati vice mayor would surely go a long way in helping the needy persons, especially subsistence farmers who have yet to own a piece of land despite years of toiling in the field owned by rich landlords,” Pimentel said.

Agrarian Reform Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes, who was also present during the hearing, said he will consult their lawyer on what to do with the land. (MNS)