MANILA, Philippines – Former Makati City vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado yesterday revealed that Vice President Jejomar C. Binay allegedly owned several condominium units in Makati City, attempting to validate long-running legendary stories about the Binays’ questionable fame in the financial district.
Testifying before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, Mercado showed a slide presentation of the six properties with the names of the dummies allegedly used by his former boss, Vice President Binay.
Among these was the 150-square meter Unit 2801 of The Peak Condominium which had been registered under the name of a certain Ariel Olivar, surveyor of the so called “Hacienda Binay” in Rosario town, Batangas province.
▪Unit 2801 of the Le Triomphe Condo under the name of one Celso Santiago whom Mercado said is the uncle of Binay’s wife and former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay.
▪ Unit 906 at the Makati Sunrise Hotel now Berjaya Hotel, also listed under Santiago’s name.
▪Unit 797 of The Perla Compania De Seguros Mansion Condotel, which is registered under the name of a certain Benjamin Zapanta, who he said is linked with a contractor to various projects in Makati City.
▪ Unit 2316 of the Prince Plaza Condotel, which was registered under the name of Santos Panlilio, the alleged contractor of the Makati Pabahay Program and other projects.
▪Unit 5B of the Avignon Tower that Mercado said is under the name of Santos Panlilio’s wife, Aurora.
To prove that Binay was using dummies to hide his properties, Mercado even presented Olivar’s supposed affidavit which he received during the hearing.
In the one-page affidavit, Olivar confirmed that he was the registered owner of Unit 2801 of the Peak Condominium located at Leviste Street, Makati.
“However, I am not the true and beneficial owner of the property—I am not the purchaser for value, nor have I at any time exercised any act of ownership over the property,” Olivar said in his alleged sworn statement as read by Mercado.
“My name was registered as owner to conceal the identity of the true owner of the property. I know the true owner of the property to be Vice President Jejomar Binay,” Olivar added.
According to Mercado, these “dummies” were unwilling participants but were afraid of the Vice President.
Mercado said Binay’s ownership of the units was made possible because initial transactions with the Makati City Engineering Office which evaluates applications for building permits are already tainted with corruption.
According to tempo.com.ph, he also said that based on the system of applying for an occupancy permit in Makati City, a developer has to bargain with the city engineer in order to get adjustments in real property tax.
LOVELY HAZEL M. VALDE
LNU, ABCOM INTERN