MANILA, Philippines – Former Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr are facing graft charges over the construction of the Makati Science High School building.
The Office of the Ombudsman on Thursday, August 3, indicted the two former mayors of Makati City on 4 counts of graft and 3 counts of falsification of documents due to irregularities found in the construction project.
Inadvertently dragged into the controversy is the school that has produced some of the brightest students in the country.
The institution started as Makati West High School, when the elder Binay established it in 1986. Three years later, in 1989, it was placed under the supervision of the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (now the Department of Education or DepEd).
It was renamed Makati Science High School after it was allowed to implement a Special Science and Technology Curriculum in 1994.
The school has since become among the top performing public schools nationwide. It had ranked in the top 10 in past national assessment tests, and raked in awards from competitions here and abroad.
The controversial building
In 2014, the school transferred from its 4-story campus building in Barangay Poblacion to a new 10-story building along Kalayaan Avenue in Barangay Cembo.
The P1.3-billion structure contains modern science laboratories, a reading center, a theater, and a dormitory, among other new facilities.
However, the building itself got embroiled in controversy amid an exposé on the "overpriced" Makati City Hall Building 2.
In November 2014, whistleblowers claimed that the construction project for the new Makati Science building was also overpriced.
Lawyer Renato Bondal said in a Senate hearing that the structure should have cost only P470 million. The contractor for the school building was Hilmarc's Construction Corporation, the same one for the City Hall Building 2. The Commission on Audit also noted red flags in the project.
Bondal was among those who filed graft and plunder charges against the Binays and Makati City officials in December 2014.
The Binays maintained that the building's construction was aboveboard, but Junjun Binay conceded in a Senate hearing that it may be possible that the city's bids and awards committee overpriced the project "without his knowledge." – Rappler.com
Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.