Senate invites VP Binay to testify on ‘overpriced’ Makati building

CAPITOL HILL MEETING. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos, discuss bilateral issues with Rep. Ed Royce, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States House of Representatives, during a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda)

CAPITOL HILL MEETING. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, accompanied by Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. and Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos, discuss bilateral issues with Rep. Ed Royce, Chair of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States House of Representatives, during a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. (Philippine Embassy Photo by Ariel Penaranda)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – It’s now official.

The Senate blue ribbon committee has formally invited Vice President Jejomar Binay to attend the panel’s subcommittee hearing regarding the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall building II.

The letter signed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III was sent September 11, when the committee held its fifth hearing on the issue, but was released to the media only on September 15, Monday.

The letter stated that the committee “is requesting your presence in its sixth public hearing on Thursday, September 25, 2014, at 10 a.m. at the Senate session hall…to inform the committee about what you know regarding the subject matter under inquiry. We look forward to your Honor’s presence during the said hearing.”

Binay was supposed to hold a live address on the issue Monday afternoon but he rescheduled it to go to northern Luzon and assess the damage brought by Typhoon Luis.

Joey Salgado, Binay’s spokesperson, said they did not receive any invitation from the Blue Ribbon committee.

“No invitation received,” Salgado said.

Kickbacks, plunder complaint

Last week, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado accused Binay of receiving 13 percent kickback in every project the city entered into during his term.

Mercado had also admitted receiving kickbacks generated from city hall contracts, including the one on Building II. He added that he also delivered such funds to Binay, his wife Dr. Elenita Binay, and then- Councilor and now Makati Mayor Junjun Binay.

The Vice President and Mayor Junjun, along with 21 others, are facing a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the alleged overpriced project.

The Vice President has repeatedly denied involvement in any wrongdoing and has described previous allegations as part of a demolition job against him.

Needs of typhoon victims

In a press statement, Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesperson for political concerns, said the scheduled live address was postponed since the Vice President wanted to see the needs of the victims of typhoon Luis in Cagayan and Isabela.

“There will be an appropriate time to address the issues raised during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing. The Vice President believes the needs of the typhoon victims are immediate and should be attended to,” Remulla said.

“Work continues for the Vice President amidst accusations against him and his family. Right now, his priority is the welfare of the people of Cagayan and Isabela who are suffering from the onslaught of typhoon Luis,” he added.

He said Binay is currently in Peñablanca, Cagayan and will proceed to Iguig, Amulong and Alcala.

Binay is also expected to extend help to typhoon survivors in Isabela, his home province. (MNS)

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