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Naimbitahan na si Binay ng Senado

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Ayon sa balita, wala pang pinal na desisyon si Vice President Jejomar Binay kung dadalo siya o hindi sa susunod na pagdinig ng Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee hinggil sa kontrobersyal na “overpriced” na Makati City Hall Building II.

Ito’y sa kabila ng pormal na imbitasyon na ipinadala ng komite sa tanggapan ng Bise Presidente para sa susunod na pagdinig sa Setyembre 25.

 “Pinag-iisipan ko pa,” pahayag ni Binay sa mga reporter nang makapana­yam sa kanyang pagbisita sa mga biktima ng bagyong Luis sa bayan ng Amulung, Cagayan kahapon.

Ginawa ni Binay ang pahayag matapos nitong ipagpaliban ang nakatakda sana nitong talumpati hinggil sa kinasasangkutang isyu partikular ang umano’y pagtanggap nito ng 13% kickback sa mga proyekto ng Makati City government.

Pero pagtitiyak nito, sasagutin umano niya ang lahat ng ibinabato sa kanya ng kanyang mga kalaban sa takdang oras.

 “Ayoko na lang maki­pagdebate pa sa ganyan. Basta’t sasagutin ko lahat ‘yan,” paniniyak pa nito.

Ako po’y isa sa  mga naghigintay ng paliwanag ng Bise Presidente sa mga batikos sa kaniya at sana naman ay hind iniya ito isasantabi lamang sa patuturing sa mga batikos na mga gawa-gawa lamang ng kaniyang mga kalaban sa pulitika.

Sa aking pananaw, merong lamang ang mga bintang sa kaniya at dapat niyang magpaliwanag  – kung meron man — tungkol sa mga binatang sa kaniya. Tama ang isang sinulat ng kolumnista na ang malaking pagkakamali ni Binay ay ang kaniyang hindi pag-alaga sa kaniyang mga bata. Imbes, knilaban niya ang mga ito kung kaya sila’y bumabanat ngayon sa kaniya.

* * *

Samantala sa Senado, sakali mang mag-isyu ng subpoena ang Senate Blue Ribbon committee kay Binay, tiniyak ni Senate President Franklin Drilon na hindi niya ito pipirmahan. “I will not sign any subpoenas to the Vice President. The invitation has been issued, it is up to him,” dagdag pa nito.

Sa totoo lamang, hindi naman maaaring hulihin ang bise presidente kahit ano pa man ang binibintang sa kaniya  dahil, gaya ng presidente, soya ay isang “impeachable officer.” Hindi siya maaaring siumbong kahit ano pa man ang kaniyang nagawa bago siya nahalal  bilang bise presidente. Dapat muna siyang ma-impeach. Kaya lamang kapag hindi na siya bise presidente, doon lamang siya maaaring kasuhan pwera lamang kung mapili siyang presidente sa halalan ng 2016.

* * *

Naihalal si Postmaster General Josie Dela Cruz bilang kauna-unahang miyembro ng Eurogiro Board mula sa Asya, ang global payments network na kumukunekta sa lahat ng postal organizations, banks at payment service providers na may pangunahing headquarters sa Denmark.

Si Dela Cruz rin ang kaisa-isang babae  na mauupo sa nasabing eight-member board.

Kasama rin ni Dela Cruz, sa Board ng Eurogiro sina Walter Pinci, Poste Italiane, Italy, Chairperson, Daniel Krebs, Post Finance, Switzerland - Deputy Chairperson, Christian Westerhaus, Deutsche Bank, Germany/USA, Achim Lebeau, Deutsche Postbank, Germany, Wolfgang Hanzl, BAWAG P.S.K., Austria, André G. Costa, Correios, Portugal at Jonathan Elkins  ng National Bank of Canada, Canada. Kabilang din sina Michel Stuijt, CEO at Uwe Holmsgaard, CIO/COO na mamumuno sa Eurogiro management.  

Ayon kay Walter Pinci, ang bagong chairman of the board ng Eurogiro,  “Extending the board with participants from the Philippines and Canada is a natural step in demonstrating global scope and brings in expertise from payment experts in countries outside Europe. I am certain this will strengthen the current network and will facilitate Eurogiro’s expansion of its services towards the needs of new customer targets”.

Ayon pa sa opisyal na pahayag ng Eurogiro, “Dela Cruz is broadly-educated and experienced member with a record of accomplishment of reforms in public service”.

Tinatayang mahigit 500,000 bangko at post offices at apat na bilyong tao and direktang nakikinabang sa serbisyo ng Eurogiro sa lahat ng member organizations nito sa buong mundo.

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hvp (09.17.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Will You Still Vote Binay For President?

He pushed for a plan to convert Makati into a city, citing its numerous business establishments and high income and, on January 2, 1995, Makati finally became a city following a plebiscite.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

Binay’s given name, Jejomar, is a contraction of “Jesús José María”. When his mother gave birth to him, she allegedly exclaimed “Susmaryosep!“–the Filipino version of the Roman Catholic ejaculation, “Jesus, Mary, Joseph!”– upon seeing his very small size. He was subsequently christened “Jesús José María”, the third name not being his birth certificate. Later in his life, Binay changed his given name to Jejomar.[Note 1]

Binay was born at 5:00 PM on November 11, 1942 at Sacred Heart Hospital at 374 Looban St., Paco, Manila.[1] He is the younger of two children of Diego “Jego” Medrano Binay, a librarian from Bauan, Batangas, and Lourdes Gatan Cabauatan (died January 2, 1951 in Pasay City), a school teacher from Cabagan, Isabela. He had an older sibling who died before he was born making him the only child who survived childhood. After being orphaned at the age of nine, he was adopted by his uncle, Ponciano Binay.

Binay went to the Philippine Normal College Training Department for his elementary education. He later went to the University of the Philippines Preparatory School for his high school education. For college he attended the University of the Philippines, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Political Science, and later a a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law. He passed the Philippine Bar Examination in 1968. Additionally, he took up master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of the Philippines, and master’s degree in Law at the University of Santo Tomas.

He started his law practice as a legal counsel of Manila Councilor Carlos Loyzaga. He became an assistant attorney in the Deogracias T. Reyes Law Office, and later on, a senior partner in the Binay, Cuevas, Flores and Associates Law Office.

Binay also taught taxation and land reform at St. Catherine’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and management, political science and law at the Philippine College of Commerce (now, Polytechnic University of the Philippines) in 1970-1972. He also taught at the Philippine Women’s University and St. Scholastica’s College.

He provided free legal assistance to abused the human rights during the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos. He actually helped many friends and even close relatives who went against the dictator. While teaching at the Philippine College of Commerce, he co-founded the Lupon ng mga Manananggol ng Bayan (LUMABAN). In addition, he joined the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the August Twenty-One Movement (ATOM), formed shortly after the assassination of Senator Ninoy Aquino in August 1983. He also helped found the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism, Inc. (MABINI), a group of progressive lawyers that included Senators Lorenzo Tañada, Wigberto Tañada, Rene Saguisag and Joker Arroyo.

For helping political prisoners, many MABINI lawyers, including Binay, were imprisoned.

So, in February 1986, Binay became one of President Corazon Aquino’s first appointed local officials after Mayor Nemesio I. Yabut died while in office during the EDSA Revolution. He was elected in his own right in 1988 and was reelected in 1992 and 1995.

He joined pro-democracy forces in preventing the mutinies against the Aquino administration from being successful. His active role in the defense of the Constitution earned him the nickname “Rambotito” (or little Rambo, after the screen hero), the Outstanding Achievement Medal and a special commendation from Aquino.

He pushed for a plan to convert Makati into a city, citing its numerous business establishments and high income and, on January 2, 1995, Makati finally became a city following a plebiscite.

During his first term as mayor, Binay was also elected by the mayors in Metro Manila as chairman of the Metro Manila Authority, which was a precursor to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). He served from 1990 to 1991.

In 1998, he was appointed chairman of the MMDA with cabinet rank under the administration of President Joseph Estrada. He was also appointed as vice-chairman of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

In 2001, Binay reclaimed his post as mayor of Makati, winning over actor, TV host, and then-vice mayor Edu Manzano via landslide and became a critic of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He won his second term in 2004 by a landslide against 1st district Councilor Oscar Ibay. He ran for his third and last term as mayor in 2007 and won again by a landslide, beating incumbent Senator and actor Lito Lapid. His margin over Lapid has been considered as the largest margin in a local election in Makati City.

In October 2006, the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued a suspension order against Binay, Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, and all members of the City Council following an accusation of ‘ghost employees’ on the city payroll by former Vice Mayor Roberto Brillante, a political rival. Refusing to cooperate with the suspension order, he barricaded himself inside the Makati City Hall. Among those who expressed support were former President Corazon Aquino, actress Susan Roces - the widow of the late movie star and 2004 opposition presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. - and several Catholic bishops.[9][10] After a three-day stand-off, the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order. Before it lapsed, the court issued an injunction order, thereby preventing the Office of the President from enforcing its suspension order until the case was resolved.

Binay was upheld by the courts in a graft case filed by the Ombudsman over allegations of overpricing in the purchase of office furniture. The case was also filed by Brillante, who at that time was leading in Makati a Palace-supported signature campaign to amend the Constitution. The Sandiganbayan Third Division dismissed the graft case filed against him and his six co-accused for lack of factual basis.] Critics claim the suspension order was intended to distract attention from the government’s own scandals.

On May 2, 2007 the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) froze all the bank accounts of the city government of Makati and the personal accounts of Binay and Mercado.

The BIR issued the order after it said the city still owed the BIR P1.1 billion in withholding taxes of city employees from 1999 to 2002. BIR revenue officer Roberto Baquiran signed and issued the warrant of garnishment against the bank accounts that belonged to Binay, Mercado, the city government and the city’s treasurer and accountant.

The city government protested the garnishment order, saying the city had already paid P200 million to the BIR as part of a settlement agreement agreed to by Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and former BIR chief Jose Bunag. The city also said the order was flawed, since Baquiran had no authority to issue writs of garnishment and freezing the personal accounts of Binay and Mercado were also unlawful.

The garnishment orders were eventually lifted by Malacañang, but not after Binay slammed the move as politically motivated and patently illegal.

And again, barely a week before the local elections, the Ombudsman suspended him based on allegations made by a local candidate allied with Malacanang. It would be revealed that the charges were supported by falsified statements. In a repeat of the October 2006 incident, heavily armed policemen barged into the City Hall after office hours, forcibly opening the offices and occupying the building. he confronted police officials and representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government, while hundreds of supporters once again swarmed the city hall quadrangle to show their support.

The suspension order generated national media attention, and prompted even administration senatorial candidates to protest publicly, saying the action further undermined their chances in the elections.[19] In the election that followed, Binay and his entire slate in the polls won by a landslide, The opposition slate for the Senate eventually won by a landslide.[21]

Binay initially announced his bid for the presidency for the 2010 elections during his 66th birthday celebration at the Makati City Hall on November 11, 2008 but abandoned his bid in order to give way to the reelection bid of former President Estrada. He eventually became Estrada’s running mate and ran under the banner of Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN).

He initially showed a relatively poor performance in the public opinion polls, trailing behind Senators Loren Legarda and Mar Roxas, who was heavily favored to win the race, but his standings improved as the elections approached, overtaking Legarda and tying with Roxas in the final survey conducted. He went on to narrowly defeat Roxas in the election by 700,000 votes.

Roxas filed an election protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal of the Supreme Court, which is still currently pending.

Binay took his oath as Vice President on June 30, 2010, becoming the first local government official to do so.

He was appointed as chairman of the Housing Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) by President Noynoy Aquino, the same position held by his predecessor, Vice-President Noli de Castro and Presidential Adviser for OFW Concerns.

* * *

Now, however, after a Senate Committee took a look at what is turning out to be an overpriced City Hall cum parking building and several persons who helped Binay get where he is have actually turned against Binay and openly talk about how Binnay became so rich as mayor, one wonders whether the voters will still go for Binay. For myself, I doubt if I will ever give my vote to someone I consider a crook.

Knowing, however, how small a minority I represent of the total voters in this country, the coming elections will probably still be a test for the voter. Will he choose the one he perceievs as the more honest  candidate or will the voter still go with whoever is the more popular not matter that he may not be the most honest of the candidates. Will the voter still choose the cabdidate more likely to enrich himself in office or will he go with someone pledged to the straight and narrow Daang Matuwid of the present dispensation?

Considering that even the sisters of the President have declared themselves Binay supporters despite the clear signs of chicanery and worse that have surfaced which Binay dismisses as political fodder brought to the table by his political enemies and former cohorts, one wonders, if Binay can srtill win,  what hope there may still be for this country?

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hvp 09.16.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Binay’s First ‘Presidential’ Speech

“Binay would defend himself and his family against allegations of corruption thrown at them by former officials of Makati City, where he served as mayor for three terms before being elected to the second highest office in the land in 2010.”


 

by Ducky Paredes

 

   I, for one, am glad that Vice President Jejomar Binay did not go through with his speech Monday that promised to be “presidential” even as he obviously would have given us only  his reply to the charges against him which he would qualify as nothing more than political fodder in reply to the same coming from his enemies. We were promised that the 15-minute address to the nation would be “emotional, heartfelt and presidential in tone.”

But, one could not have expected much because the press notice promised that Binay would defend himself and his family against allegations of corruption thrown at them by former officials of Makati City, where he served as mayor for three terms before being elected to the second highest office in the land in 2010.

Binay’s camp will invite the press to cover the Vice President’s speech, which will still be delivered the day after tommorrow or, maybe,  Thursday  at  the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) at 2 p.m.

His accuser in the Senate says that, if Binay is not talking to the the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that is investigating the charges against the vice president, what he says will not matter as much as it would if he was speaking before the Senate investigators under oath.

Still, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. says that he will be listening to the Vice President who has a standing invitation to speak before the Senate investigators even if he is not being forced by the Senate to testify.

The most serious of the charges against Binay is the alleged overpricing of the 11-story Makati City Hall Building II and  Bina’s taking 13 percent of the price of all development projects in the city as grease money.

Binay and his son, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, are also facing a plunder complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the same charges hurled at them by their former political allies in Makati.

Binay has been issuing statements to the press through his aides accusing his detractors of maligning him to eliminate him from the race for Malacañang in 2016.

Binay’s speech will represent his first effort to deal with the allegations, which may already have  affected  his presidential plans.

The Vice President will be both on the offense and on the defense in his speech that, according to his spokesman, Cavite Gov. Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla, Binay himself mostly wrote.

In an interview, Remulla said Binay’s speech would be “emotional, heartfelt and presidential in tone.” “The Vice President will give a general overview of what’s happening. These lies, the allegations against him, and about governance and what he stands for,” Remulla said.

 That tells me that Binay will not give us anything but what he has been saying all along — that all of these have to do with politics and his presidentia ambitions and have no basis in reality

Remulla said that Binay wanted to deal with the latest allegations aired at the Senate inquiry—that he accepted millions of pesos in grease money, delivered to him, his son and his wife in large duffel bags by his former vice mayor, Ernesto Mercado.

Speaking on radio, Senator Pimentel said he would take cognizance of the public statements of Binay and his spokespersons if the Vice President chose not to come to the Senate inquiry.

Binay has been invited, not subpoenaed, Pimentel stressed, to the continuation of the inquiry on Sept. 25.

The Vice President is not bing compelled to come to the Senate hearing if he decides not to accept the invitation, Pimentel said.

 “I can’t say we can totally shut out information coming from press releases and press conferences because we read about them as well,” Pimentel said.

 “In effect, we admit we are taking notice—in court it’s called judicial notice so let’s call this legislative notice—that there are pronouncements from the camp of Vice President Binay,” he said.

Pimentel said he would ask his staff to compile news reports carrying statements from Binay and his spokespersons so that these could be taken into account by the subcommittee in the preparation of its investigative report.

He said, however, that statements to the press would get less weight than statements made to the Senate under oath.

 “When the statement under oath clashes with a press statement, I think it’s not wrong to give more weight to the statement under oath because the one speaking is willing and ready to be charged with perjury,” Pimentel said.

Sen. Serge Osmeña III said the charges against Binay were serious, as these were leveled against him by his former officials, and he should respond to these properly instead of just claiming political persecution.

The allegations could damage Binay’s ratings, Osmeña said. They may already have damaged Binay.

* * *

Remulla said Binay was ready to face the charges against him and he would deal with them in his speech.

The Vice President’s family, including the Makati mayor and Sen. Nancy Binay, will be at the PICC for his speech.

Remulla said the Vice President would not take questions from reporters.

Governor Remulla said that he and Navotas City Rep. Toby Tiangco would answer questions from journalists.

* * *

From the look of things, it doesn’t seem like we will be getting  anything of any importance from what Binay’s camp is calling his first “presidential” speech. Expect the Vice President to go on a total denial mode, dismissing those who would stand up against him as being liars and worse and their tales of corruption politically motivated stories fabricated to destroy the good name of the vice president and his mayor son, his conresswoman daughter, his senator daughter  and his wife, the former mayor.

Many of us have a hard time believing the vice president because if all those who talk about corruption are only making all these up, we still have no explantion as to how the Binays of what used to be called the district of culi-culi in the municipality of Makati got so rich all from being public servants, no less.

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hvp 09.16.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Dapat Pa Bang Maging Pangulo si Binay?

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Sa lahat ng mga lumilitaw tungkol kay Binay bilang Alkalde ng Makati, hindi na maaaring sabihing paninira lahat ng mga bahong lumalabas tungkol sa pamumuno nito sa Makati. Maliwanag na kung magiging Pangulo ng bansa si Binay na ikahihiya natin ang mangyayari sa ating bansa. Baka wala nang manatiling matinong tao sa buong pamahalaan. Kung ngayon ay nanghuhulidap ang ating kapulisan, tiyak na lalong sasama ang pamamahala ng isang Pangulo na siya mismo ay nangunguna sa  katiwalian, gaya ng sinasabi ngayon ng kaniyang mga dating ka-alyado.

Talaga namang kapani-paniwala ang mga inilalabs ng dati niyang vice mayor na si Ermesto Marcado.

Ang nagiging sagot ng mga spokesman ni Binay gaya ni Cavite Governor Jomvic Remulla  ay ang walang pagkakaiba si Mercado sa dating Makati general services head Mario Hachanova na kumokontra na rin sa dating alkalde. Ayon kay Jonvic, “Mercado conveniently used the name of a dead person to make malicious and baseless allegations against the Vice President and his family. They should stop using the name of a dead person, in the process hurting his family who are still grieving from his death a year ago.”

Ang problema’y sa pagpapatuloy ng Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee, tuloy-tuloy ang lumalabas tungkol sa diumanong 13% “kickback” ni VP Binay sa mga proyekto ng lungsod.

* * *

Sa totoo lamang, ako’y naniniwala sa mga sinasabi ni Mercado tungkol sa mga kickback na kaniyang dinadala sabahay ng mg Binay. Sa pagpapatuloy ng testimonya kahapon ni dating Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado sa pagdinig ng Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee na pinamunuan ni Sen. Koko Pimentel sa Makati City parking building, isiniwalat nito na may pagkakataong siya mismo ang naghahatid ng pera sa senadora si Nnacy na noon ay hindi pa elected official.

Ayon kay Mercado, ang ilang insidente ng pagtanggap mismo ng mambabatas ng pera na idinideliber niya sa bahay ng mga ito ay naganap sa panahon ng panunungkulan ni Gng. Elenita Binay bilang alkalde ng naturang lungsod.

“May mga pagkaka­taon po kasi na wala si Ninang (tawag sa lady mayor) sa bahay kaya si Nancy ang tumatanggap nito, ang tinutukoy ko pong Nancy ay si Senadora Nancy Binay, noon po ay hindi pa siya senadora,” pagbubunyag ni Mercado sa harap ng mga senador na dumalo sa pagdinig.

Isiniwalat din ni Mercado na may mga pagkakataon pa umanong tila napaghihinalaan siya ni Gng. Binay kung talagang naidedeliber niya ang pera kung kaya’t gumawa na lamang umano siya ng listahan bilang katibayan na tumatalima siya sa obligasyon.

“Minsan po ay natatanong pa nga ako ni Ninang kung ano ang nangyari sa mga pera niya kaya sinasabi ko po na si Nancy ang tumanggap at sinasagot naman niya ako ng, ‘sigurado ka bang tinanggap ni Nancy?’ At sinasagot ko naman po ng opo,” paglalahad pa ni Mercado.

Ang halagang idini-deliver ni Mercado, na may pagkakataong si Senadora Binay ang tumatanggap, ay ang bahagi umano ng parte nito buhat sa kontrata sa basura.

* * *

Sa totoo lamang, ang aking kinakatakutan ay kung mahalal na Pangulo si Jojo Binay, baka namang ang Malakanayang ay malubog na sa katiwalian kung ganitong pamilya ang mamumuno sa ating bansa.

Ang masama pa riyan na mukhang ang mga anak ni Cory at mga kapatid mismong ng ating Pangulong tumatahak sa daaang matuwid ay mukhang sumusuporta rin kay Binay sa kagustohan nitong maging Pangulo ng ka-awa-awa nating bansa!

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hvp (09.15.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

BCDA Loses BGC & John Hay Cases

There is no evidence that accused Sobrepeña concealed the corporate records and financial statements of CJHDevCo to BCDA. There is no evidence showing that accused Sobrepeña persuaded, BCDA to enter into the said contract .

by Ducky Paredes

 

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) recently  lost court cases to private developers — one at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City and another at the John Hay Special Economic Zone (JHSEZ) in Baguio Citty. These reverses prompts us to take a long and hard look at BCDA under its president Arnel Paciano Casanova, who seems engaged in a methodical, vicious, campaign to harass BCDA’s current and would-be investors for his own reasons.

With Casanova’s losses before the Supreme Court (SC) and the Regional Trial Court (RTC), we find BCDA guilty in serial breaches of agreements with private developer Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) at the JHSEZ and with the SM Land Inc. (SMLI) at the BGC in Taguig.

In an Aug. 13 decision, the SC permanently ordered the BCDA to abide by its original agreement with the SM Land Inc. (SMLI) on a competitive challenge for the development of the 33.1-hectare Bonifacio South Pointe property at BGC.

This SC order made permanent the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) it issued in January last year after SMLI filed a petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus against BCDA for reneging on its commitment to carry out a competitive challenge on SMLI’s unsolicited proposal by arbitrarily deciding to instead hold a public bidding for this state property in BGC where the Fort Bonifacio Development Corp. reigns as the main private developer-partner.

The 26-page SC ruling ordered the BCDA to go ahead with the competitive challenge as petitioned by SMLI, as the High Tribunal decided that doing otherwise might turn investors away from public-private partnerships.

BCDA figured in a related fracas with SMLI last year after a heavily-armed security group led by Casanova himself made a last-ditch attempt to block the May 16 inauguration of the SM Aura mall, which is right across the street from the Ayala-owned Market! Market! mall at BGC.

* * *

 In another Sept. 3 decision, the Pasay Regional Trial Court (RTC) cleared Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJHDevco) chairperson Robert John Sobrepeña of estafa raps that Casanova filed earlier this year on the basis of a now-apparent trumped up charge of unpaid rentals due the BCDA-controlled JHSEZ.

Pasay RTC judge Pedro De Leon Gutierrez ruled that contrary to Casanova’s claim that CJHDevco had reneged on its rental obligations as longtime private partner, it was actually a slew of factors—mostly traceable to BCDA—that led to a deferral of the  lease payments on this ex-US military base once known as Camp John Hay.

More importantly, Judge Gutierrez said that far from being a unilateral move by CJHDevco, the rental payment suspension was permitted by the pre-Casanova BCDA by virtue of three (3) Memorandums of Agreement (MOAs) approved not only by then-chairman and now-Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson but by the Office of the President (OP) and Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) as well.

Judge Gutierrez  recalled that the BCDA forged three MOAs with the CJHDevco in the previous decade that led to the rental payment deferral after the private developer’s initial payment of P425 million in rentals, owing to various factors:

Delay in the demolition by BCDA and its subsidiary John Hay Poro Point Development Corp. (JPDC) of Camp John Hay structures, which, in turn delayed the turnover to CJHDevco of certain portions covered by the leased 247-hectare JHSEZ property;

Delay in the issuance of the requisite Environment Compliance Certificate (ECC) so CJHDevco could proceed with the development of its leased property;

Urgency for CJHDevco stakeholders to resort to borrowings to continue the development of JHSEZ in Baguio City; and

The negative impact on the domestic economy of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

* * *

These three MOAs, the subjects of the estafa case filed by Casanova against Sobrepeña and CJHDevco, are the:

MOA signed on Aug. 5, 1999 covering the approval of the lease payment deferral by a joint committee comprising senior CJHDevco and BCDA executives, in response to the delays in the issuance of ECC and demolition by BCDA and JPDC of certain structures covered by the leased property;

MOA signed on July 14, 2000 further acknowledging the delay in the demolition of the same structures, the impact of the Asian economic flu, and the need for CJHDevco for borrowings to pursue John Hay’s development amid the abovementioned setbacks; and

MOA dated July 18, 2004 recognizing the Office of the President (OP)’s approval of the July 14, 2000 MOA.

 Contrary to Casanova’s charges, RTC Judge Gutierrez concluded that these MOAs proved that:

1.    BCDA acknowledged the problems encountered by CJHDevco, part of which were caused by BCDA-incurred project delays, that led to the private developer’s request to defer rental payments, and

2.    It was a joint committee made up of CJHDevco and BCDA officers that approved payment deferment.

Hence, Gutierrez said, “There is no evidence that accused Sobrepeña concealed the corporate records and financial statements of CJHDevCo to BCDA. There is no evidence showing that accused Sobrepeña persuaded, BCDA to enter into the said contract … The very stipulations of the MOAs appears to be a product of negotiations, verification and careful, if not meticulous, evaluation … The July 14, 2000 MOA was even approved by the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel and by the Office of the President.”

In response to this RTC’s dismissal of Casanova’s estafa case against Sobrepeña, CJHDevco executive vice president (EVP) & chief operating officer (COO) Alfredo Yñiguez said that, “At the onset, we knew this was a harassment case. The board was cleared of charges by the prosecutor in June so it was odd that a case was still filed against Mr. Sobrepeña.”

 “This decision only emphasizes that Mr. Sobrepeña and CJHDevCo have always been upfront and transparent in our dealings with BCDA,” added Yñiguez.

* * *

In a statement debunking Casanova’s bogus charges in an Open Letter published in the Baguio Midland Courier in Baguio City last July, the private developer listed six (6) errors in BCDA’s most recent media attack on Sobrepeña and CJHDevco:

Regarding BCDA’s claim about the arbitration case with the Philippine Dispute Resolution Center Inc. (PDRCI) over the supposed non-payment of P3.3 billion in lease rentals, the CJHDevco officials said this was not true because this case is not about collection of lease payments but about “BCDA’s breach of contract and failure to meet its contractual obligations” to CJHDevco under the original MOA and succeeding RMOAs.

Said the CJHDevco officials: “The claim of P3.3 billion by BCDA is illusory’ as this represents accumulated suspended rentals payments during the five-year period (2003-2007) when BCDA was in breach of contract after the Supreme Court revoked the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status of Camp John Hay, resulting in complete stoppage of all construction and development work, and suspension of all building permits inside Camp John Hay, disabling CJHDevco from proceeding with site development.”

* * *

Contrary to BCDA’s claim, ,this PDRCI arbitration case actually stemmed from at least ten (10) MOA and RMOA violations by BCDA, namely the:

1.    Delay in the release of the ECC (without which not even groundbreaking could be done) until two (2) years into the project;

2.    Delay in the turnover of 32 hectares of the leased area (done only in May 2000);

3.    Failure to deliver some 79% of the 18-hectare developable footprint of the leased property;

4.    Failure to immediately demolish pre-1996 existing structures within the leased property at JHSEZ (completed only in 2003);

5.    Supreme Court’s withdrawal of the tax and duty incentives within the leased JHSEZ area as warranted by BCDA;

6.    Failure to secure approval by the Commission on Audit (COA) for the BCDA-CJHDevco MOA) dated July 14, 2000;

7.    Delay in the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the JHSEZ; (accomplished only in 2000);

8.    Delay in securing a MOA with the Bureau of Customs (BOC);

9.    Failure to work on the lifting of the local ban on the processing and issuance of all developmental, building and tree-cutting permits within JHSEZ from August 2004 to 2007; and

10. Non-creation of the mandated One Stop Action Center (OSAC) to process and issue all  national and local developmental permits and other permits needed by CJHDevco and its locators.

* * *

The SC was correct in seeing that BCDA’s breach of its original agreement with SMLI on the competitive challenge for the development of BGC’s 33.1-hectare South Fonte property would send the wrong signals to prospective investors in President Aquino’s flagship public-private partnership program.

Along with BCDA’s turnabout on its pact with SMLI, Casanova’s maneuvers—in cahoots with the Department of Justice (DOJ)—last June to have CJHDevco chairperson Sobrepeña arrested on trumped-up charges in connection with the deferred-rental-payment issue has sent the wrong message to prospective investors that the government is not above screwing over its business partners even in priority investment or economic zones like BGC at The Fort and JHSEZ in Baguio.

What makes it worse is that Casanova, according to coffee shop talk, did waht he did for the benefit of his favored business partner-developer Ayala Corp.

Casanova’s belligerent  moves against CJHDevco in particular couldn’t have come at a worse time as these took place as the PDRCI was deep in arbitration proceedings to amicably settle the issues that led to this BCDA-CJHDevco row and Sobrepeña’s arrest order.

In fact, it is almost a no-brainer in the business community that Casanova and his DOJ co-conspirators resorted to this subterfuge last June precisely to dragoon the PDRCI, which is expected to wrap up its proceedings in a month or two.

* * *

 As expected, Sobrepena and his allies cried “selective justice,” “harassment” and “personal vendetta” before and after he posted bail on June 16 after the Pasay RTC issued an arrest warrant over the P1.15-billion estafa case filed by Casanova, as an offshoot of the DOJ’s earlier indictment of Sobrepeña over the alleged non-payment of  JHSEZ rentals.

Gloating over the DOJ and RTC moves, Casanova said the real issue was “CJHDevco’s non-payment of lease rentals to Government while declaring dividends, extending  cash advances and assignment of shares to its stockholders in 1998 to 2000.”

Casanova claimed that legal action was taken against CJHDevco because its officials’ “representations on their finances were fraudulent and misleading.”

* * *

But back then, CJHDevco officials already expected the court to dismiss the trumped-up charge against Sobrepeña, in light of the well-documented history of BCDA’s breaches and defaults.

These executives explained at that time that the private developer made a payment-deferment request based on the unfairness of charging full payments while  BCDA was defaulting on its contractual obligations to CJHDevco, and not because it was unable or unwilling to pay as the DOJ resolution contends.

 Under the original 1996 MOA on the 25-year lease of the 247-hectare JHSEZ in Baguio City, CJHDevco was to pay BCDA an annual rent of P425 million or 5% of the gross revenues for the first five (5) years of the contract, whichever was higher.

This meant that BCDA was supposed to receive P1.275 billion in rental fees from 1998 to 2000 under this 1996 MOA.

But it is understandable for CJHDevco to accuse Casanova of “selective justice” and “personal vendetta” against Sobrepeña because the BCDA, courtesy of the DOJ, indicted Sobrepena and ordered his arrest as chairperson but spared the members of the  Board, which had approved all of Sobrepeña’s past actions that led to his June indictment and arrest warrant.

 “The case filed by Casanova against me is just a nuisance case, which should be dismissed within months,” said Sobrepeña after posting the P40,000 bail last June. “It was done in a desperate attempt by BCDA to influence the Arbitration Panel’s decision in their losing case vs. CJHDevco.”

* * *

Following Sobrepeña’s arrest, Yñiguez III  noted: “We are in arbitration. But they (BCDA) filed this in the court while waiting for the arbitration court’s decision.”

Yñiguez said the timing of this estafa case was suspect, as it was belatedly filed 14 years after the supposed case happened and at this time when the Baguio City court hearings had ended already and a three-member panel was now deliberating on CJHDevco’s petition to reform the lease contract and adjust payments as a result of BCDA’s defaults.

* * *

The 36-page DOJ decision was penned by prosecutor Caterina Paeg, with recommending approval by Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon and approved by Prosecutor-General Claro Arellano.

 “It is odd that the resolution was released at a time when the arbitration tribunal is in the process of resolving the issues of the arbitration case between BCDA and CJHDevco,” Ubarra, who is also CJHDevco spokesman, said.

* * *

Ubarra voiced optimism that his client will be vindicated in the RTC trial as the case is based solely on BCDA’s allegation that the private developer’s chairman committed “false pretense” on its financial state that resulted in the deferment of rental payments over the 1998-2000 period.

Even before the RTC’s Sept. 3 ruling, Ubarra was already confident  that the BCDA case would never prosper in court because:

BCDA, which was then headed by now DPWH Secretary Singson had agreed to the deferral of rental payments under two RMOAs sealed by both parties in August 1999 and July 2000;

The “whereas” clause in the revised agreements expressly stated that CJHDevco’s inability to meet its development plans and realize its projected sales and revenues were caused by BCDA’s admitted breaches of the lease agreement, the delays in BCDA’s fulfillment of its obligations to the private developer, and the negative impact of the Asian economic flu.

 “These were the d reasons BCDA agreed to the deferment of rental payments, not the imagined reasons now belatedly advanced by the BCDA,” Ubarra said; and

 Both the 1999 and 2000 RMOAs were validated not only by the Singson-chaired BCDA Board of Directors at that time but also by the OGCC, before these were later on approved by the Office of the President (OP).

* * *

Sobrepeña himself bewailed his unfair treatment from the BCDA and DOJ, which singled him out for an estafa charge while finding no probable cause to go after his 16 co-respondents in the case, namely the CJHDevco board directors during  years 1998-2000.

Noted Sobrepeña: “In dismissing the estafa charges against my 16 other co-respondents, all directors of CJHDevco similarly situated as I, the DOJ gave credence to the defense of my co-respondents that the agreement of BCDA for deferral of rental payments in 1999 and 2000 did not arise of any false pretense of financial incapability on behalf of CJHDevco but arose from the admission of breaches by the BCDA, clearly stated out in black and white, in the memorandum of agreement signed in 1999 and 2000.”

* * *

Also, Sobrepeña railed at the DOJ for deciding that the same defenses available to his co-respondent directors were not made available to him simply because [1] he was the one who signed the letter request for deferral of the rental payments, citing as basis the breaches of BCDA; and that [2] he was the one who had appeared before the BCDA Board meeting to explain CJHDevco’s position that deferral of rental payments was called for on account of the BCDA breaches, which resulted to actual losses in revenues for the project.

According to Sobrepeña, it was ‘’incredulous” for DOJ and BCDA to conclude that he was such a convincing speaker that the BCDA Board led then by now-DPWH Secretary Singson, “agreed to defer more than an alleged P1 billion in rentals simply because I tricked them into believing that CJHDevco was incurring revenue losses.”

“Perhaps if Mr. Casanova and the DOJ prosecutor stuck to the facts,” he said, they could have understood “the logic of the then-BCDA Board in agreeing to rental deferrals on account of BCDA’s acknowledged breaches and not simply because I allegedly falsely pretended CJHDevco had no money.”

 “Having no money to pay rent is different from saying there is some money but since you are in default, fix the default first and then I will pay you,” he added. “The latter was the scenario in 1998, 1999 and 2000.”

* * *

Sobrepeña correctly points out that these questionable actions by the DOJ and BCDA would send the wrong signal to investors, given that while CJHDevco had paid 40% of its dues to the government, the BCDA had only delivered 21% of its commitments under the original lease agreement.

Despite the denial of building permits and other requirements in the absence of the agreed-upon OSAC, CJHDevco managed to remit P1.4 billion to the BCDA, or 40% of its due rentals. This, despite BCDA’s RMOA breaches that enabled CJHDevco to develop just four of 25 hectares, thus affecting severely its income generation.

* * *

But even without all the legalese, the simple question is how—as what Casanova wants the public and the courts to believe– the BCDA Board of Directors and the OGCC, which had presumably reviewed the 1999 and 2000 RMOAs, could be so gullible as to have been fooled single-handedly by Sobrepeña?

What is clear is that this estafa case is only the latest in the string of nuisance or harassment suits that Casanova mounted against CJHDevco—at taxpayers’ expense—in a sinister plot to kick out Sobrepeña and his company from Camp John Hay.

In Aug. 2012, a month after the court ordered arbitration, BCDA filed with DOJ 52 counts of malversation of public funds and property against privately-held CJHDevco for allegedly not providing income and accounting of 26 hotel units paid in kind in 2008;

In Sept. 2013, DOJ dismissed 50 counts but retained two to keep alive both the case and CJHDevco’s negative image; and

In March 2012, another estafa case was filed by BCDA against CJHDevco, involving the 2008 payment in kind of a log cabin that BCDA alleged to have been sold to an individual, Wilson Sy.

 This complaint was used by BCDA in full-page newspaper ads to assert that CJHDevco was engaged in “fraudulent” acts at the JHSEZ. Despite an affidavit from Sy denying his owning  the cabin, submitted in the libel suit that resulted in Casanova et al.’s indictment, DOJ sat on that estafa case and other seemingly frivolous BCDA suits, including a “professional squatting” charge on the leased property by lessee CJHDevco.

Also, missing is Casanova’s libel indictment, which was forwarded to DOJ for review after arrest warrants for Casanova et al. were issued.

# # # #

hvp 09.14.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Obispo sa mga Binay: Sagutin ang Complaint!

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Hinimok ni Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo ang pamilya Binay na harapin at sagutin ang mga alegasyon na ipinupukol sa kanila kaugnay ng diumano’y overpriced na Makati City Parking Building 2 sa halip na ipangalandakan na “pinupulitika” lamang sila.

Sinabi ni Pabillo, chairman ng CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), hindi tamang sabihin lamang ng mga Binay, partikular na si Vice President Jejomar Binay, na pinupulitika lamang sila.

Ang hindi yata naiintindihan ng Obispo ay wala nang paki ang Bise Presidentekung anupaman ang maaaring ipalitaw ng Senado sa kanilang pagiimbistiga dahil ngayong Bise Presudnte na ang dating alkalde ay hindi na siya kinakailangang sumagot sa kung anuman ang kaniyang nagagwa noon Alkalde pa  siya sapagkat’t ang dapat lamang na kanyang sagutin ay ang kaso tungkol impeachment. Habang wala si Binay nilalabag na impeachable offense. Di siya maaaring pasagutin. Ito’y ganoon rin kapag napili pa siyang Pangulo ng ating bansa.

Dahil dito, hindi kinakailangang makinig si Binay at kaniyang pamilys kung anuman ang mga akusasyon tungkol kay Binay noon siya ay alkalde pa lamang.

Nunit, Sinabi ng obispo, hindi mahalaga ang mga counter accusation at sa halip ay dapat na sagutin at ipaliwanag kung bakit walang katotohanan ang mga alegasyon upang malinis nila ang kanilang pangalan.

 “Dapat harapin ni Binay at ng kanyang pamilya ‘yung mga akusasyon. Hindi naman sapat sabihin niya na pamumulitika lang, sagutin niya may mga reklamo laban sa kanya at kung talagang may isasagot siya sa mga reklamo na ganu’n na hindi naman babalewalain lang na sasabihin na namumulitika lang sila, hindi ganu’n ‘yan, may basehan ang complain dapat sagutin niya kung bakit ganu’n,” giit ni Pabillo sa pana­yam ng church-run Radio Veritas.

Magugunita na inakusahan ng overpricing si Binay sa pagpapagawa ng Makati Parking Building 2 na nagkakahalaga ng P2.7 bilyon.

Pero dahil nangungunang presidential aspirant sa 2016 si Binay, base sa mga survey, makailang ulit na iginiit ng kampo ng Bise Presidente na sinisira lamang ng mga kalaban sa pulitika ang matunog na pangalan nito.

Ngunit naniniwala si Pabillo na maaari namang sagutin nang direkta ni Binay sa Senado, partikular sa Senate Blue Ribbon committee na siyang dumidinig sa isyu, at latagan ng maayos na paliwanag na siyang tanging nais marinig ng sambayanan.

* * *

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

The Continuing Search for Makati’s White Elephant

Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by the President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee conducting hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 said he plans to invite Vice President Jejomar Binay as a “lone” resource person in a forthcoming hearing.

Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee chairman Aquilino Pimentel III confirmed plans of inviting the Vice President to a hearing where he would be the lone resource person.

“Ganito ang plano ko: ‘Pag tapos na lahat ng witnesses. Magse-set ako ng isang hearing, at ang imbitado lamang doon isang tao lang, walang iba kundi si Vice President Binay,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that Binay can refuse the invitation, and that he would not impute any meaning in it, should be choose not to appear before a hearing on the alleged overpriced building that was bidded out and began construction when he was still Makati City mayor.

The Makati City Hall Building 2, which began construction in 2007, is bleived to be  overpriced by almost P2 billion.

The 11-story office and parking building is the subject of a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso VI before the Ombudsman against Vice President Binay and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

(Unfortunately, for Makati, their former Mayor, having been elected Vice President,  can no longer be charged with any crimes he may have committed as Makati mayor. As Vice President, he is now answerable only for impeachable  crimes, not to anything he may have done before he was elected to the higher office. This is the reason why his whole family (Mayor son, Senator Daughter and Congresswoman Daughter) scoff at those who would blame Jojo for the overprice of the Makati City Hall building. After all, even if you could prove it, you can’t do anything since this is not a “impeachable offense” which is all that impeachable officers should worry about. Thus, it is unimportant to them whether the building’s P2.2-billion price tag, is because of the building’s “high quality”or  (as claimed by the former Mayor of Makati) the city even “saved P200 million” from the contract he signed.

As now one who can only be charged with impeachable offenses, the Vice President is answerable only for impeachments that can come only from the Congress.

(Another sidelight is the “bad blood” between the Pimentels and the Vice President. Binay and Pimentel went their separate ways before the 2013 elections after PDP-Laban, then a member of the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance, agreed to former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s inclusion in the UNA senatorial slate as a member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino. (Koko lost in the 2007 elections believing that he was cheated by the party of then President Gloria Arroyo which proclaimed Zubiri as the winner.)

Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. (Binay had been a member of the PDP-Laban since he entered politics in the 1980s.  He, however, resigned from the party earlier this year.  He ran and won the vice presidency under the UNA—a coalition of the PMP and the PDP-Laban—in 2010.)

* * *

Tomorrow, the Senate panel is set to continue the grilling of  the executives of building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, and representatives from the Commission on Audit (COA).

The panel will also test the credibility of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and former bids and awards committee vice chairman Engr. Mario Hechanova, who testified against the Binays in previous hearings.

In a media interviews, the Vice President and his family again brushed off the allegations against the former mayor as politically motivated and linked this to survey results showing him leading other potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race.

* * *

Since Jojo Binay is now an “untouchable” except through impeachment, what can Senators Cayetano and Trillanes hope for in their investigation of something that Jojo Binay may have done in  a past life as a municipal official, for which he can no longer be held liable having now  become an impeachable officer?

The best that they can hope for is enough proof that the former Mayor made his money by stealing from the city and enriching himself  in the process which would predict how he would do as the President of our country.

This would not be a bad thing for the coming elections and would even elevate the choices instead of making the coming election as just another popularity contest as most of out elections have become. We spend so much just to find out who was the most popular of the candidates.

Of course, in the last elections for our latest senators, we did have a new crop of politicos without the usual showbiz personalities winning election based only on fans’ mindless choices.

There may still be hope in this country for meaningful elections that will choose the best leaders for our country.

* * *

Perhaps the best thing that has happened to us has been the internet and the number of our younger citizens who have become adept netizens, The fact that stories are posted on the Net can immediately checked as to facts and relevance takes a lot away from the effectiveness of rumors and professional rumor-mongers who in past elections often made a difference in the results of our elections.

Let us hope for more netizens who can make a difference for a better Philippines.

# # # #

hvp 09.09.14

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Obispo sa mga Binay: Sagutin ang Complaint!

Diretsahan

 

ni Horacio Paredes

 

Hinimok ni Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo ang pamilya Binay na harapin at sagutin ang mga alegasyon na ipinupukol sa kanila kaugnay ng diumano’y overpriced na Makati City Parking Building 2 sa halip na ipangalandakan na “pinupulitika” lamang sila.

Sinabi ni Pabillo, chairman ng CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (ECPA), hindi tamang sabihin lamang ng mga Binay, partikular na si Vice President Jejomar Binay, na pinupulitika lamang sila.

Ang hindi yata naiintindihan ng Obispo ay wala nang paki ang Bise Presidentekung anupaman ang maaaring ipalitaw ng Senado sa kanilang pagiimbistiga dahil ngayong Bise Presudnte na ang dating alkalde ay hindi na siya kinakailangang sumagot sa kung anuman ang kaniyang nagagwa noon Alkalde pa  siya sapagkat’t ang dapat lamang na kanyang sagutin ay ang kaso tungkol impeachment. Habang wala si Binay nilalabag na impeachable offense. Di siya maaaring pasagutin. Ito’y ganoon rin kapag napili pa siyang Pangulo ng ating bansa.

Dahil dito, hindi kinakailangang makinig si Binay at kaniyang pamilys kung anuman ang mga akusasyon tungkol kay Binay noon siya ay alkalde pa lamang.

Nunit, Sinabi ng obispo, hindi mahalaga ang mga counter accusation at sa halip ay dapat na sagutin at ipaliwanag kung bakit walang katotohanan ang mga alegasyon upang malinis nila ang kanilang pangalan.

 “Dapat harapin ni Binay at ng kanyang pamilya ‘yung mga akusasyon. Hindi naman sapat sabihin niya na pamumulitika lang, sagutin niya may mga reklamo laban sa kanya at kung talagang may isasagot siya sa mga reklamo na ganu’n na hindi naman babalewalain lang na sasabihin na namumulitika lang sila, hindi ganu’n ‘yan, may basehan ang complain dapat sagutin niya kung bakit ganu’n,” giit ni Pabillo sa pana­yam ng church-run Radio Veritas.

Magugunita na inakusahan ng overpricing si Binay sa pagpapagawa ng Makati Parking Building 2 na nagkakahalaga ng P2.7 bilyon.

Pero dahil nangungunang presidential aspirant sa 2016 si Binay, base sa mga survey, makailang ulit na iginiit ng kampo ng Bise Presidente na sinisira lamang ng mga kalaban sa pulitika ang matunog na pangalan nito.

Ngunit naniniwala si Pabillo na maaari namang sagutin nang direkta ni Binay sa Senado, partikular sa Senate Blue Ribbon committee na siyang dumidinig sa isyu, at latagan ng maayos na paliwanag na siyang tanging nais marinig ng sambayanan.

# # # #

hvp (09.10.14)

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

Our God-Awful MRT/LRT Experience

After nearly a dozen Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) mishaps and glitches since July alone—topped by the Aug. 13 overshoot by a malfunctioning train at the Taft Station that injured 38 passengers—senators saw it fit to pry into this EDSA rail system’s state of disorder.

            The Senate inquiry was welcome news to MRT3’s over half-million daily commuters as it raised hopes that the series of public hearings would serve as catalyst for a combined executive-congressional action to reverse this rail system’s decrepit condition, and finally arrest the never-ending spate of accidents and other system hitches that have subjected train passengers to hellish conditions that placed them in harm’s way—on a daily basis.

            Riding an MRT3 train has become so bad and dangerous that one meme that has gone viral on social media is last month’s MRT3 Rush Hour Challenge to government executives to brave the kilometric station queues and slowed-down rides, in a spinoff from the highly popular Ice Bucket Challenge in support of the fight against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

            If one were, at this point, still unbelievably looking for enough proof of the hopeless state of MRT3, then it has to be that just hours after the Senate’s Monday (Sept. 1) probe into the Aug. 13 accident that injured 38 passengers, this rail system encountered yet another glitch, this time a signaling system slip-up that stopped trips from the North Avenue-Shaw Boulevard stations for an hour.

            As pointed out by MRT Holdings and MRTC executives: “The problems besieging the MRT-3 System, such as long queues, frequent train breakdown, among others, are attributed to the over-all deteriorating condition of the MRT-3 System due to poor maintenance of the said system by the current maintenance provider hired by DOTC.”

            “The almost everyday news of train stoppages, breakdown of signaling system, breakdown of communication system, overshooting of trains from the rail tracks these past several months, clearly point to a breakdown in the maintenance of the system,” they add.

            DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya and the probe committee that was created to investigate the Aug. 13 incident dismissed the major accident as a mere case of “human error,” in trying to sweep under the rug the nagging issue of the system’s worsening upkeep.

            The jury is still out on whether the drivers of the stalled train and the rescuing one were at fault, but what is certain is that that such human error was but a symptom of the true malady, which is the fast-deteriorating state of this EDSA rail system resulting from the monumental failure of the DOTC-handpicked service providers to (1) keep the trains in tip-top shape, (2) upgrade or replace antiquated hardware like signaling and emergency brake systems, and (3) procure needed equipment like tow trains to pull stalled coaches and water pumps to prevent flooding of the  tracks during heavy rains.

            However, what has bothered many of those who had attended the maiden public hearing by the Senate committee on public services was the apparent drift of the proceedings to issues, although MRT3-related, not germane to this primary concern of Metro Manila’s train riders: the disaster-waiting-to-happen scenario resulting from the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC)’s virtual takeover of this 15-year-old rail system pockmarked by a disgusting level of upkeep or operation and maintenance (O&M) work.

            In the absence during the initial inquiry of resource persons from DOTC’s supposed private partner—the MRT Holding Corp. (MRTH) and its subsidiary MRT Corp. (MRTC)—it was child’s play for DOTC and Light Rail Transit Authority (LRTA) executives to draw attention from the overriding issue—the poor maintenance of the train system under the Aquino administration—to the peripheral ones, particularly the (1) Equity Value Buyout (EVBO) or takeover plan of the Aquino administration and the urgency for a capacity upgrade, (2) the arbitration case that the private partner filed against the government in 2008 for DOTC’s non-payment of rentals and other violations of their BLT agreement, and (3) the Temporary Protection Order (TPO) that the private partner sought in pursuit of the arbitration case it filed last summer in connection with the DOTC’s unilateral acquisition of 48 new trains from a Chinese supplier.

            (MRTC is owned by MRT Holdings II Inc. (MRTH-II), which, in turn, is owned by MRT Holdings Inc. (MRTH).

* * *

            It seems obvious that the EVBO is a dud and obviously just a diversionary ploy, considering that the P53.9-billion buyout budget that has been floated since last year by Abaya and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima is not enough for a 100% takeover, as this will only cover payment of the economic rights held by state-run Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) and Land Bank of the Philippines (LandBank).

            What about the cost of purchasing the stocks of private owners, specifically MRTH, MRTC and the Metro Pacific Investment Corp., which bought into MRTC in 2010?

            MRTH Vice President Frederick Parayno said in media reports that the representatives of the private partner that government officials have been talking to with regard to the EVBO plan are only the bond holders LandBank and DBP that own a combined 80% economic interest in MRT3, and not the private owners per se in the MRTH/MRTC/MPIC group.

            He notes that that the amount that Government has earmarked for the takeover of the line represents  only the amount for the acquisition of MRTC’s bonds.

            “Back in 2009, when the arbitration case in Singapore started, the price of the line was already pegged at $2.5 billion (roughly P110 billion),” Parayno said. “This could have ballooned by this time.”

Parayno said that, “The government is not even discussing its proposal with the owners of MRTC. Who they are talking to are the government representatives, not the owners.”

            In light of this situation, Parayno urged the government to set a meeting with the Sobrepeña Group to discuss this EVBO plan, adding that, “We are open to meeting with the government  and to discuss the possible plans that they would want to pursue.

* * *

            Although DOTC’s Abaya, Department of Finance (DOF)’s Purisima and National Treasurer Rosalia De Leon have been talking about EVBO since 2013, nobody from these agencies has as yet talked to MRTH and MRTC executives about this planned re-nationalization of the rail system.

            Railwaytech.com, the premier website on railway technology and operations in the United Kingdom and across the world, says  that, “reliability is the key to successful railway operation and maintenance should be the No. 1 priority to ensure reliability is on-going”

             “If the equipment, especially the rolling stock, is not reliable, the railway is not workable.  A good railway management will keep track of its performance and its failures and, by this means, ensure that problems are eliminated before they become endemic.”

* * *

            As emphasized by MRTH spokesperson David Narvasa, EBVO is “not the immediate solution” to MRT3 passengers’ problems—and would, in fact be an “admission of default” by Government with respect to their BLT accord.

            “An equity value buy out will not address the problem of safety,” Narvasa said in a statement. “The problem of safety can only be addressed by getting a qualified maintenance provider.”

            “An equity value buyout is a right given to MRTC in case of default of the government. The government has to first be in default,” the lawyer-spokesperson stressed. “If DOTC says they insist on an equity value buyout, are they saying they are in default?” Narvasa says.

            Are DOTC and its chosen contractors the reason for the  Poor Operation and Maintnance (O&M) situation of the MRTC?

            With nobody from the private owners around during the Sept. 1 hearing, the government’s transport executives had also cashed-in on the capacity expansion issue by turning it around and unduly blaming MRTC for the maintenance problem supposedly for failing to acquire new light rail vehicles (LRVs) to augment the current fleet from the time it started operating MRT3 in 1999.

            What is true is that the  private partner has made five proposals to purchase additional LRVs at no cost to the government since 2002 but all the proposals were rejected by the government.

            The latest offer was made by MPIC in 2010 after buying into MRTC under a cooperation agreement with the Sobrepeña Group, which controls MRTH.

            Such capacity expansion proposals were made five times by the private partner in keeping with the partnership principle of its 1999 BLT agreement with the government on almost doubling the system’s capacity from 350,000 passengers to at least 660,000 riders per day.

            That is why MRTC offered to buy more LRVs since the early 2000s in view of (1) the projection then that the original maximum daily capacity of 350,000 would be met soon, and, (2) the two-year lead time for the manufacture and delivery of new coaches.

* * *

            What DOTC eventually did was to dump Sumitomo Corp., the original maintenance provider when its twice-extended O&M contract expired in 2012. DOTC then hired in 2013 two contractors—the Philippine Trams Rail Management & Services Inc. (PH Trams)- Comm Builders & Technology Inc. (CB&T) consortium and, later, Au Porte Technologies (APT Global)—whose main qualifications seemed to be their owners’ close ties to Abaya, ex-DOTC Secretary Manuel Roxas II and fired MRT general manager Al Vitangcol Jr. and/or their roles as political operatives or campaigners for Roxas and the Liberal Party (LP) in the 2010 elections.

            DOTC had selected PH Trams and, later, APT Global without first consulting MRTC or submitting the contract’s Terms of Reference (TOF) for MRTC’s prior review and approval, in gross violation of their Build Lease Transfer (BLT) agreement forged in 1999.

            Following the DOTC’s arbitrary award of the interim six-month maintenance contract to PH Trams on Oct. 16, 2012, MRTH II and MRTC wrote three consecutive letters to the Department (on Nov. 13, Dec, 18 and Jan. 17 the following year) noting that the selection of PH Trams did not conform to the earlier agreement that the government would seek prior consent from its private partner before choosing the O&M operator.

            The MRTH/MRTC group had also questioned the qualification and capacity of PH Trams to maintain the MRT3.

            Then on Aug. 22 last year, DOTC awarded a one-year maintenance contract to APT Global without again consulting MRTC anew or presenting MRTC  with the accord’s TOR for its review and approval.

            The unilateral moves by the DOTC to select interim O&M operators without first consulting MRTC (in violation of the BLT deal) prompted MRTC to repeatedly demand a technical audit of the MRT3 system—to ascertain not only the actual condition of the accident-prone rail system but also the competence of the interim upkeep contractors.

            The DOTC/LRTA finally agreed to the MRTC-requested technical audit only after the Aug. 13 accident had injured 38 riders and stirred public uproar.

            According to media reports, a team from Mass Transit Railway (MTR) of Hong Kong flew over to Manila last month after being chosen to do the system-wide assessment—for the account of MRTC—and is set to complete its technical  audit report in a month’s time.

* * *

            Contrary to the DOTC/LRTA contention that the MRTC has been at fault for failing to acquire new LRVs, MRTH’s Narvasa revealed that MRTH/MRTC  repeatedly proposed upgrades in anticipation of reaching the 350,000 design capacity of the MRT, but the DOTC ignored all the proposals.

“We gave government proposals for additional trains, including a proposal where the trains would be purchased at no cost to government but all these proposals were not acted upon by government,” Narvasa revealed.

            Instead, he said, the government chose to acquire 48 LRVs from Dalian Locomotive.

“The problem with these trains from China is that they may not be compatible with the existing structure of MRT3,” added Narvasa. “What will be sent over is a prototype made by a company that has no experience in making double-articulated trains.  What it has experience in are locomotives.”

“So the issue now will be whether these trains will be compatible,” he said. “We want to ensure, for the safety of the people, that the trains purchased are compatible with the current system.

The five proposals by the MRTH/MRTC/MPIC group are the following:

            The Monumento Rail Transit Corp. proposed to provide additional trains, upgrade the system and extend the MRT-3 System to Monumento, as approved in 2002 by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Cabinet Committee;

            MRTC proposal to DOTC in May 2004 to provide additional trains and upgrade the MRT-3 System pursuant to their BLT accord;

            MRTC reiterated this proposal to the DOTC in September 2005;

            MRTC sent another proposal to DOTC in March 2007 to provide additional trains and upgrade of the MRT-3 System; and

            MPIC proposal in 2011 to provide additional trains, upgrade, and improve the system and extend the MRT-3 System to Monumento, at no cost to the Government.

            The recent scandal concerning the $30-million extortion charge by Czech Ambassador Josef Rychtar and Inekon boss Josef Husek, which later on led to Vitangcol’s ouster, provides an inkling on why transport executives were opposed to the private partner’s repeated offers to acquire additional trains at no cost to the Philippine government.

            It appears that DOTC executives would rather do the train acquisition themselves than let MRTH/MRTC/MPIC do it for monetary reasons, as could be gleaned from the Rychtar/Husek charge that Vitangcol and his gang had tried to extort $30 million from Inekon in exchange for the supply of new MRT3 trains.

            Incidentally, Vitangcol’s gangmates—Marlo dela Cruz, Wilson Devera and Manolo Maralit—who had been fingered by Rychtar and Husek in the $30-million shakedown are the same guys running PH Trams and APT Global. But this is another story.

* * *

            Industry watchers believe that the Senate probers should focus on the primordial issue of maintenance—or the lack of it—rather than being sidetracked by the peripheral issues that DOTC/LRTA officials have floated during the initial public hearing to conceal the (1) repeated BLT breaches at the expense of MRTC and (2) highly irregular selection of incompetent interim O&M contractors responsible for the train accidents and system glitches now happening with increasing frequency.

            While conducting their probe, senator-investigators would do well to pry into other issues that impact on the safety of over a half-million daily train riders. These include:

            Vitangcol’s allegation in a July news report that the DOTC contract awarded to lone bidder Dalian Locomotive was probably a done deal three years before the public bidding for the P4.5-billion capacity expansion project took place in 2013.

            In a confidential letter reportedly sent to DOTC Assistant Secretary  Jaime Fortunato Caringal, last June 16, Vitangcol revealed that a group of DOTC officials traveled to China in 2010 “to check on the manufacturing facilities of Dalian Locomotive, with all expenses paid for by Dalian Locomotive.”

In this news report, Vitangcol said that during his meeting with Dalian Locomotive executives last May 9 at the MRT3 depot, Dalian’s local representative Antonio de Mesa claimed having taken two DOTC officials to the firm’s office in China. The same news item identified these two officials as DOTC-MRT3 division chiefs Jose Ric Inotorio and Eleanor Naidas.

            Vitangcol then asked: “Was it coincidence or intentional that Naidas and Inotorio were members of the Project Management Office, created to manage and administer the contract with Dalian, and ultimately to accept the LRVs, through a DOTC Special Order?”

            The ousted MRT3 manager also claimed in his letter to Caringal that an unnamed member of the DOTC Technical Working Group that eventually disqualified the other bidder—China South Railways—and recommended the contract’s award to Dalian, was “also part of the group that visited Dalian Locomotive in China back in 2010.”

             Some  lawmakers want the DOTC to disqualify the PH Trams-CB&T venture and APT Global from the Oct. 13 bidding for MRT3’s O&M contract, given their poor maintenance record. Perhaps, considering everything one ought to ask that  the DOTC be disqualified from having anything to do with the MRT and the LRT!

* * *

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

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hvp 09.09.14

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.

The Continuing Search for Makati’s White Elephant

Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by the President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party.

 

by Ducky Paredes

 

 

Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., chair of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee conducting hearings on the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 said he plans to invite Vice President Jejomar Binay as a “lone” resource person in a forthcoming hearing.

Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee chairman Aquilino Pimentel III confirmed plans of inviting the Vice President to a hearing where he would be the lone resource person.

“Ganito ang plano ko: ‘Pag tapos na lahat ng witnesses. Magse-set ako ng isang hearing, at ang imbitado lamang doon isang tao lang, walang iba kundi si Vice President Binay,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said that Binay can refuse the invitation, and that he would not impute any meaning in it, should be choose not to appear before a hearing on the alleged overpriced building that was bidded out and began construction when he was still Makati City mayor.

The Makati City Hall Building 2, which began construction in 2007, is bleived to be  overpriced by almost P2 billion.

The 11-story office and parking building is the subject of a plunder complaint filed by lawyer Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso VI before the Ombudsman against Vice President Binay and his son, incumbent Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

(Unfortunately, for Makati, their former Mayor, having been elected Vice President,  can no longer be charged with any crimes he may have committed as Makati mayor. As Vice President, he is now answerable only for impeachable  crimes, not to anything he may have done before he was elected to the higher office. This is the reason why his whole family (Mayor son, Senator Daughter and Congresswoman Daughter) scoff at those who would blame Jojo for the overprice of the Makati City Hall building. After all, even if you could prove it, you can’t do anything since this is not a “impeachable offense” which is all that impeachable officers should worry about. Thus, it is unimportant to them whether the building’s P2.2-billion price tag, is because of the building’s “high quality”or  (as claimed by the former Mayor of Makati) the city even “saved P200 million” from the contract he signed.

As now one who can only be charged with impeachable offenses, the Vice President is answerable only for impeachments that can come only from the Congress.

(Another sidelight is the “bad blood” between the Pimentels and the Vice President. Binay and Pimentel went their separate ways before the 2013 elections after PDP-Laban, then a member of the opposition coalition United Nationalist Alliance, agreed to former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri’s inclusion in the UNA senatorial slate as a member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino. (Koko lost in the 2007 elections believing that he was cheated by the party of then President Gloria Arroyo which proclaimed Zubiri as the winner.)

Pimentel, while remaining as PDP-Laban president, withdrew from the opposition ticket and instead decided to run under the administration coalition led by President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. (Binay had been a member of the PDP-Laban since he entered politics in the 1980s.  He, however, resigned from the party earlier this year.  He ran and won the vice presidency under the UNA—a coalition of the PMP and the PDP-Laban—in 2010.)

* * *

Tomorrow, the Senate panel is set to continue the grilling of  the executives of building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation, and representatives from the Commission on Audit (COA).

The panel will also test the credibility of former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado and former bids and awards committee vice chairman Engr. Mario Hechanova, who testified against the Binays in previous hearings.

In a media interviews, the Vice President and his family again brushed off the allegations against the former mayor as politically motivated and linked this to survey results showing him leading other potential candidates in the 2016 presidential race.

* * *

Since Jojo Binay is now an “untouchable” except through impeachment, what can Senators Cayetano and Trillanes hope for in their investigation of something that Jojo Binay may have done in  a past life as a municipal official, for which he can no longer be held liable having now  become an impeachable officer?

The best that they can hope for is enough proof that the former Mayor made his money by stealing from the city and enriching himself  in the process which would predict how he would do as the President of our country.

This would not be a bad thing for the coming elections and would even elevate the choices instead of making the coming election as just another popularity contest as most of out elections have become. We spend so much just to find out who was the most popular of the candidates.

Of course, in the last elections for our latest senators, we did have a new crop of politicos without the usual showbiz personalities winning election based only on fans’ mindless choices.

There may still be hope in this country for meaningful elections that will choose the best leaders for our country.

* * *

Perhaps the best thing that has happened to us has been the internet and the number of our younger citizens who have become adept netizens, The fact that stories are posted on the Net can immediately checked as to facts and relevance takes a lot away from the effectiveness of rumors and professional rumor-mongers who in past elections often made a difference in the results of our elections.

Let us hope for more netizens who can make a difference for a better Philippines.

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hvp 09.09.14

 

Readers who missed a column can access www.duckyparedes.com/blogs. This is updated daily. Your reactions are welcome at duckyparedes@gmail.com or you can send me a message through Twitter @diretsahan.