Mercado a 'high roller', says ex-Makati official

Posted at 08/26/14 3:22 PM

MANILA - The word war over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building Two has taken an ugly turn, with two former Makati officials joining the fray.

On Tuesday, former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado accused former mayor and now Vice-President Jejomar Binay of pocketing kickbacks during the construction of the P2.7 billion project.

Mercado served as Binay's vice-mayor from 2007 to 2010.

"Ako ho aaminin ko sa inyo, sa Phase 1 at Phase 2 nakinabang po ako," he told senators during the hearing.

"Kung ang vice-mayor nakinabang, siguro mas higit nakinabang ang mayor dito. Imposibleng hindi nakinabang ang aking mayor. Yun po ang kalakaran."

A former Makati City administrator, however, turned the tables on Mercado and said it was the vice-mayor who took advantage of his position while still in power.

In a statement issued by the Makati city government, former City Administrator of Makati Marjorie de Veyra said Mercado's statements were self-serving and meant to preempt the filing of charges against him.

De Veyra said it was not uncommon for Mercado to personally hand-carry documents or checks for their signature.

"An investigation conducted showed he abused the trust and confidence given to him by the Vice President [Jejomar Binay], who was mayor at that time. Department heads have confirmed receiving calls or personal visits from the former vice mayor during his term," she said in the statement.

“These were done without the knowledge or consent of VP Binay who was Mayor at that time,” she said.

De Veyra also accused the former vice-mayor of being a "high roller" who lost millions in casinos.

“While vice mayor, he was known to frequent casinos here and abroad, where he is considered a high-roller and given five-star treatment by casino operators. He is known to lose millions in cockfights," the former Makati official alleged.

"We wondered how he was able to afford such a high-living lifestyle but his admission of personally gaining from the Building 2 project gives us the answer."

She also said Mercado has been speaking ill of the Binays since 2010 when he ran and lost against the incumbent mayor, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.