HIGHLIGHTS: Senate hearing on 'overpriced' Makati parking building | September 11, 2014

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate continues its investigation on the alleged overpriced Makati city hall building.

In the previous hearing on September 4, former Makati City bids and awards committe vice chairman Mario Hechanova said he was given a P200,000 monthly "allowance" to pick only companies endorsed by the Binay family for city projects.

Hechanova added that all biddings in Makati city were fixed saying, "Kalakaran na po sa Makati iyan, ganyan na po ginagawa namin (That’s the usual practice in Makati. That’s what we do)." Hechanova also claimed that at one point, he was forced to “trap” an interested bidder in an elevator to make sure the rival bidder, a friend of the Binays, bagged the project. (READ: Former employee: Fixing bids 'usual practice' in Makati)

The probe is based on a plunder case filed against Vice President Jejomar Binay and his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay. The Vice President dismissed the allegations as a demolition job.

In a radio interview, his spokesman Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla insisted the building is not overpriced, reiterating claims by building contractor Hilmarc’s Construction Company that based on cost per square meter, the building cost is comparable to other government projects.

A Hilmarc’s executive also denied that the Vice President had earned from the construction of the building when he was still Makati mayor, a claim belied by former Makati City employees who testified at the Senate hearing.

Remulla conceded that under Senate rules, inconclusive statements are allowed but said this is what is deterring Binay from facing the Senate panel. Criticizing the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee, he added:  “Alam 'nyo po, napakahirap ng Senate Blue Ribbon committee. Hindi ho natatakot si Vice President diyan. Pero saan ho kayo makakita na ang rules of court eh hindi ho nasusundan? Ang rules lang po, rules of ambition."

(The Senate Blue Ribbon committee is very tricky. The Vice President isn’t afraid of them. But where else can you see the rules of court not being followed? The only rules they follow are the rules of ambition.) (READ: Remulla: Senate follows 'rules of ambition' in Makati probe Rappler.com