Cayetano blasts contractor's 'half-truths'

Posted at 09/04/14 6:24 PM

MANILA – Not world class, not green and certainly not at par, price-wise, with similar buildings.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday chastised an official of the contractor of the controversial Makati City Hall Building II for telling ''half-truths'' during the Senate probe on the allegedly overpriced building.

At the continuation of the Senate inquiry into the controversy, Hilmarc's Construction Corp. assistant vice president for legal Rogelio Peig said government building projects usually cost more because of the differences in procurement system.

Peig said in private projects, property developers usually supply their own materials by going directly to suppliers of materials. This results in savings on profit, taxes and overhead expenses of the general contractor.

For government projects, on the other hand, he said it is the general contractor which goes to the specialty contractor, local supplier and manufacturer.

Peig said in government projects, the general contractor's contract amount represents 100% of the total project cost, as opposed to the 30-45% for the private sector.

Peig also said that using 2010 adjusted prices that are based on the National Statistics Office (NSO) index, the cost of the Makati building is comparable to other government structures that Hilmarc's built.

Peig said the price per square meter of the Makati parking building is P69,549.52.

'Half truths'

Later in the hearing, however, Sen. Cayetano slammed the Hilmarc's official for ''telling half-truths."

''Your presentation wasn't absolutely true, because you made it appear to this Senate, that it was always that way, but in truth, it is the option of the private building owner whether he wants to give 100% to the contractor,'' Cayetano said.

''Huwag tayong magbolahan ngayon, inamin mo na ang Asian Hospital at Medical City, 100 percent kayo, 'di niyo sinub-contract. Paano mo sasabihin na as a matter of general practice? You gave us here half-truths. Kaya ako naiinis kasi 'di kami niloloko niyo eh, tao."

The senator added: ''Government can procure in the same [manner] the private sector [does]… In fact it should be cheaper, because there is public bidding."

Cayetano also criticized Peig for not being able to come up with clear and concrete answers on some his questions, particularly the prices of some of the components used in constructing the building.

The senator also blasted Peig for what he believes were inconsistencies in the latter's statements regarding how the steel prices affected the total cost of the project.

Cayetano also questioned the veracity of the average cost per square meter of the government structures that Hilmarc's built, saying the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Makati Mayor Junjun Binay itself is disputing the use of NSO data in adjusting the price of the building for comparison purposes.

The vice president, mayor, and other Makati officials are facing a plunder complaint for the alleged overpricing of the Makati building.

Not world-class

In the same hearing, Peig also admitted that Hilmarc's never called Makati parking building as ''world-class,'' as earlier claimed by the Binay camp.

Peig, however, was quick to tell the Senate that Hilmarc's also never claimed that the controversial building is "world-class."

Cayetano said: ''Thank you for that. And I agree with you, because world-class simply means it the best…That's honesty and that's true."

Makati parking building vs. Zuellig

Cayetano also pointed that Zuellig Building in Makati, which was awarded with a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, is cheaper compared to the Makati parking building.

He said based on the data he gathered, the price per square meter of Zuellig is P42,712. He said the Makati building, on the other hand, had an average cost of P84,000 per square meter.

''This is a 32-floor office and retail space with five floors. The finish is American granite floors, Macedonian marble walls, American timber wall panel. Compare it [with] the no ceiling on upper floors, misspelled office door labels, cracked dry walls, vinyl flooring."