COA to Binays: Refund P2.29B used for Makati parking building

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) ordered former vice president Jejomar Binay and his son, former Makati City mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, among others, to refund P2.292 billion used for a controversial Makati parking building. 

The Binay camp said on Monday, June 4, that they will appeal these "belated but not surprising" COA findings.

The two notices of disallowance from COA's fraud audit office also covered private contractors and other city officials linked to the Makati City Hall Parking Building II project. (READ: Binay's Makati building overshoots approved budget

COA disallowed the following: 

COA rules state that individuals held liable should refund the full amount.

The Binays already face criminal charges for graft, falsification of public documents, and malversation of public funds at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan. These charges also include Makati City officials and the involved private contractors' executives. 

The younger Binay, Junjun, was held liable for the bigger chunk of the building contract. This involved Phase 3 worth P599.994 million; Phase 4 worth P649.934 million; and Phase 5 worth P143.806 million – a total of P1.394 billion.

Contracts for phases 3 to 5 were approved during his term as Makati City mayor.

The former vice president, meanwhile, faced questions for approving Phase 1, which was worth P386.998 million; and Phase 2, worth P499.357 million. Combined, both were worth P886.355 million.

Binay camp: No due process

In a statement, Binay spokesperson Joey Salgado stressed that these projects "were previously subjected to COA audits and there were no adverse findings."

"The COA only started singing a different tune – in effect questioning the competence of its own people  – when the previous administration began its political demolition work on former VP Binay and his family," Salgado said.

"Former VP Binay and former mayor Junjun intend to appeal COA's findings, even if belated but not surprising," he added.

Salgado also pointed out that COA "released to the Ombudsman its fraud audit findings before it issued its notice of disallowance."

"This violates the agency's own COA memorandum, Memorandum 2015-007 dated April 16, 2015, prescribing the guidelines in the conduct of a special fraud audit. The said fraud audit findings were used by the Ombudsman in filing the case now pending before the Sandiganbayan," Salgado said.

He also noted that "there were no audit observation findings (AOM) and notice of suspension (NS) issued by COA on the construction of the Makati Parking Building, which COA should have done in the first place."

"COA denied former VP Binay and former mayor Junjun their basic right to due process when it issued the fraud audit report without giving them the opportunity to respond to the notice of disallowance. Until and after their appeal of the disallowance is resolved, the fraud audit report cannot be enforced by COA," Salgado said. – Rappler.com