MANILA, Philippines – What overpriced cakes?
A day after a political rival brought out cakes to prove the Binay family’s “thievery,” Makati city officials denied his claim, denouncing it as a “crude attempt” to use the Senate “as a platform to raise malicious, baseless and non-existent allegations against the Binay family.”
At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Renato Bondal accused former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati mayor Junjun Binay, of overpricing the city government's buildings and even birthday cakes the city gives to its senior citizens.
Bondal also filed plunder charges against the two Binays and other city officials over the allegedly overpriced Makati “parking building.” The Makati City Hall Building 2 was the subject of a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee where Bondal suddenly brought out the cakes.
Bondal said that the cakes sold by Red Ribbon and Goldilocks sell for only P570 ($13*) and P390 ($8.90), respectively, but the similar-sized birthday cake given out by the Makati city govenrment allegedly costs "more than P1,000 ($22.82)."
Makati city administrator Eleno Mendoza in a statement said Bondal’s claims were “totally false.” Purchase orders from the city government, Mendoza said, would show the cakes were bought by the city at P306.75 each.
Mendoza said they would submit the documents to the Senate.
‘Pattern of lies’
The younger Binay has claimed the case against them and the subsequent Senate hearing are politically-motivated. The Vice President, a founder of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), has plans to run for the presidency in 2016. So far, the older Binay has been leading in the presidential polls.
While the Binays have denied Bondal’s claims, during the hearing, Mayor Binay had admitted it was “possible” that the building was overpriced without his knowledge.
Makati spokesman Joey Salgado challenged Bondal to show proof of the alleged cake overpricing. He said the allegation "shows the pattern of lies being peddled by Mr Bondal, starting with his claim of overpricing in the construction of Building 2 and other infrastructure projects."
Bondal ran against the younger Binay during the 2010 elections but lost.
‘In aid of demolition?’
UNA Secretary General and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, meanwhile, said the Senate hearing had been “converted…into a forum to hit the Vice President and advance their political ambitions.”
“It was not a hearing in aid of legislation. It was in aid of demolition and the political ambitions of some senators who style themselves as graft busters when they themselves cannot claim to be lily white,” said Tiangco in a statement.
Tiangco also accused “some senators” of lawyering for Bondal during the hearing.
The probe was based on a resolution filed by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV of the Nationalista Party (NP), but chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
During the hearing, Pimentel wanted to “skip” the discussion on the alleged overpriced cakes as it was not part of the committee’s agenda but Trillanes stressed that the cakes raised a valid point.
Trillanes and another NP member, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, have both expressed interest in seeking higher office. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P43.8