Senate eyes ocular inspection of pricey Makati building

Posted at 08/25/2014 4:38 PM

MANILA - What makes the Makati City Hall Building Two a "green building" and "world class"?

This is the question in the mind of Sen. Koko Pimentel as he resumes a Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee inquiry into the alleged overpricing of the P2.2 billion building.

Dubbed "the most expensive parking building in the Philippines" by a plunder complainant, the building has glass walls and panels that allow for natural lighting during the daytime. It also boasts of LED lighting, centralized airconditioning, and granite flooring.

A property appraiser earlier said the market value of a grade A, hypothetical building footprint of a 31,000 square meter structure is at P800 million, which is lower than the P2.2 billion spent on the building construction.

According to Pimentel, one way to assess the real value of the green building is to do an ocular inspection.

"I want to see the area. We need professional help to measure the area. I want to see what makes it world class. I want to see the attempts to make it a green building because there is an atrium on the 7th floor. I want to see why an atrium would make a building more expensive. And it was also claimed that the roof is landscaped. Let us look at the landscaping. And the third point is the foundation," he said in an interview on Mornings@ANC.

"Who will say that a structure is a real green building? Mayor Binay is abandoning that line of argument because he said it is green building Makati-style. That means if it is green building Makati-style, it is too subjective. There is also a Green Building Council but Makati is not claiming that it has certification from this council so wala na po yun. Pang press release lang po yun."

Pimentel said the Makati city government allegedly spent P80 million on the foundation of the Makati City Hall Building Two because the infrastructure was built near the Pasig River.

He said the Makati City government will be given a chance to explain the timeline of the supposedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building Two and whether or not officials were aware of the building plan and the cost when they approved the project.

"When the project was envisioned and approved in 2007, did Makati already have a final plan that it will cost P2.7 billion in the end? Because that is how you plan. When you plan a mega-infrastructure project, don't tell me that you don't know the finish line," he said.

He said Hilmarcs Construction Corporation, which built the entire edifice, will also be asked to explain the actual cost in constructing the building as well as the circumstances of the bidding.

He pointed out that Hillmarcs bagged the contracts for all of the phases of the Makati building.

"Hillmarcs was always the lone bidder. There could have been more than one but it was the only qualifying bid. We will get clarification tomorrow," he said.

Pimentel also pointed out a discrepancy on the gross floor area of the whole structure, noting that the Makati government lists the building as 31,900 square meters while the Commission on Audit said the structure has 33,000 square meters.

He said the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee has invited other experts and property surveyors to shed light on building construction as well as how to conduct an ocular inspection.

Last week, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay admitted it is possible the price of the building was bloated without his consent.

Binay's father, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, has said the Senate investigation is politically motivated since two of the senators involved are planning to run for higher office.

Pimentel, however, said senators who make the accusations should know the consequences of their actions.

"The senators must pay the political price. They should be conscious of the political capital they are spending or losing," he said.