Makati City’s Romulo Peña Jr., the acting mayor, has filed his certificate of candidacy for the city’s top elective post, teaming up with Karla Mercado, daughter of former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, who is the principal witness in the Senate investigation of alleged irregularities in the city hall.
Running for councilors under Peña’s ticket are: Nico Garcia, Virgilio Batalla, Mario Cruz, Jocelyn Hernandez, Raymond Kahiwat, Nilo Lopez, Jessielyn Trinidad, Victorio Umandap and Jose Villena IV for District 1; and Boyet Cruzado, Efren Arenas, Ernesto Aspillaga, Jeffrey Baluyot, Judith Celos, Artemio Contreras II, Hilario Lorico, Kristina Sarosa and Mario Hechanova for District 2.
Hechanova, a former city general services division chief, recently filed an affidavit relative to the case filed against suspended Mayor Junjun Binay and his father Vice President Jejomar Binay saying former city engineer Nelson Morales told him that the elder Binay ordered that biddings for the construction of the Makati Science High School be rigged.
Peña made the decision to run for mayor after taking over the city from Mayor Junjun Binay who was ordered suspended, and later dismissed by the Office of the Ombudsman.
The Ombudsman also came up with a decision perpetually disqualifying the young Binay from holding public office.
But legal experts said Junjun can still run for any elective post, saying the decision of the Ombudsman was not final and could still be subject to judicial review before it can be carried out.
The camp of Binay stated earlier that Makati Rep. Abby Binay may run for mayor of Makati in case the Commission on Elections did not allow her brother to seek a new term of office.
Mayor Binay vacated his post last July to serve the six-month preventive suspension order against him in connection with the alleged irregularities in the construction of Makati Science High School and City Hall Building II.
His lawyers maintained that the allegations hurled against the Binays are baseless and politically motivated.
They said the allegations did not have factual nor legal basis, and were made as part of an organized demolition campaign against the Vice President, who is the leading candidate for the 2016 presidential polls.
The Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee conducted a probe last year into the case stemmed on the complaints filed by two former village captains—Renato Bondal and Nicolas Enciso—claiming that the construction of New Makati City parking building was overpriced by P1.3 billion.
Bondal and Enciso challenged both the Vice President and the mayor to prove that their complaint was politically motivated.
Bondal, who ran but lost to Binay in the last elections, claimed the building is “the most expensive parking building in the entire country.”
The younger Binay last year exposed the plan of the opposition block to unseat him and members of the city council to pave the way for the designation of Peña, a Liberal Party member, as acting mayor.
All incumbent councilors in Makati are partymates of Binay who ran in the 2013 midterm polls under the United Nationalist Alliance.
Peña, for his part, asked all stakeholders to join him in treading the straight and narrow path towards a reformed Makati, where economic growth will have a meaningful impact on all, even on the poorest families, and where everyone will have their fair share of the city’s abundant resources through transparent and compassionate governance.
He said his administration has not only continued the city’s famous social programs, but has been able to enhance and expand these further for the greater benefit of city residents.
“I believe that if the city’s resources were used properly and prudently, we could deliver more and better services to a greater number of beneficiaries,” Peña said.
The acting mayor noted a remarkable increase in the revenue collection of the city from business and realty taxes, which he said, was a clear indication of the growing confidence of the business sector in the new city leadership.
Among the initial steps undertaken by the Peña administration was a review of the free cake benefit under the senior citizens program of Makati, followed by the conduct of a transparent bidding process aided by modern technology through live TV coverage and online streaming.