June 23, 2018, 6:06 am
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Binay indicted for graft

THE Field Investigation Office (FIO) of the Office of the Ombudsman has recommended the filing of graft and administrative complaints against former Vice President Jejomar Binay in connection with the alleged fraudulent sale of a property of the Boy Scouts of Philippines (BSP) in 2011.

A panel of investigators found basis to seek preliminary investigation into the sale of the one-hectare BSP property in Malugay street, Makati City to Alphaland Makati Place Inc (AMPI) for P600 million, which it determined to be “grossly undervalued.”

Joey Salgado, spokesman of Binay, slammed the Ombudsman for filing “baseless” complaints against the former vice president. 

“Clearly, the Ombudsman intends to spend her last days in office pursuing her personal and political agenda against former VP Binay while being a true-blue Yellow protector to the end,” he said as he accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpo-Morales of engaging in selective justice. 

Salgado noted Morales had earlier said she would no longer pursue cases against high-profile allies and personalities of the previous administration due to lack of time.

“But the Ombudsman can and will always find time against the former Vice President, even if the complaint lacks basis in fact,” he said. 

Binay is facing at least two cases at the Sandiganbayan in connection with his role as city mayor in the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Parking Building and the supposed rigged procurement for the construction of the Makati Science High School.

Aside from Binay, the FIO also recommended the filing of graft charges against former senior vice president and current BSP president Wendel Avisado, Pangasinan 5th District Representative Amado Espino Jr. and former Marikina City mayor Del De Guzman, both BSP executive board officers. 

Other respondents were BSP executive board officers J. Miguel De Jesus, Enrique Lagdameo, Pedro Destura, Dale Corvera, Maximo Edralin Jr., Remedios Petilla, Roberto Pagdanganan, Harmes Sembrano, Mildred Garay, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Leo Lasacar, Danilo Asiaten, Lutgardo Barbo, Jose Mari Pelaez, Ireneo Aquino, Jose Eduardo Delgado, Henry Dy, Jose Ma. Gastardo, Pepito Carpio, Nemesio Miranda, Jr., Jaime Semana, Wilfredo Chato, Alan Zulueta, Jorge Banal Sr., Efren Edgard Dieta, Rodolfo Tamani, Von Carlo Yacob, J. Rizal Pangilinan, and Salud Bagalso. 

The FIO is seeking their indictment on multiple charges of violations of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

The Ombudsman panel also recommended the investigation of AMPI president Mario Oreta, former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) officers Teodoro Galicia, authorized revenue official; Mark Anthony Panganiban, revenue officer; and Romeo Tomas, group supervisor for violation of the anti-graft law. 

An administrative complaint for Gross Neglect of Duty was also recommended to be filed against Binay, Avisado, De Guzman, Pagdanganan, Lasacar, Palaez, Delgado, Dy and Carpio.

The criminal and administrative charges will undergo preliminary investigation and administrative adjudication, respectively.

Investigators noted that on June 2, 2011, the BSP National Executive Board authorized the sale of the 10,000-square meter property in Malugay street to AMPI for a contract price of P600 million.

However, the FIO said the sale was grossly undervalued, noting that under the Omnibus Loan and Security agreement between BSP and AMPI, the real estate property was mortgaged for P1.75 billion, which the panel took as an indicator of the property’s true value.

Likewise, investigators cited the November 25, 2015 valuation of the same property by Intech Property Appraisal, Inc. (Intech) including existing improvements, which placed the land value at P170,000 per square meter or P1.7 billion, while improvements were assessed at P8.427 billion for a combined worth of P10.127 billion.

The BIR officials were faulted for certifying that the sale was exempt from payment of capital gains tax, which resulted in tax collection losses of P63 million for the government.

“The grant of tax exemption from capital gains tax without obtaining a request for BIR ruling for the exemption was made with manifest partiality and evident bad faith causing undue injury to the government,” the FIO said. 

Former Makati City vice mayor Ernesto Mercado in 2015 accused Binay of getting a P651-million kickback from the deal. He claimed the BSP should have gotten more than the P600 million from the sale of the Makati City property, which was donated by BF Goodrich Philippines to the BSP in 1976.

Binay has since denied the allegations, while the BSP dismissed claims that its contract with Alphaland was anomalous. – With Evan Orias 
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