BY ROGER M. BALANZA
The Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearing today, November 6, turned up with a comic twist with ‘whistleblower’ former Makati City Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado revealing that he has turned up as a ‘dummy’ in the land-buying spree for the 150-hectare ‘Hacienda Binay’ alleged to be owned by Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family in Rosario, Batangas.
Mercado, a former ally of Binay when he was the vice mayor of Makati City, is at the core of inquiries by the Senate subcommittee on the alleged over-pricing of the Makati City Parking Building whose contractor Hilmarc’s was fleeced by then Mayor Binay with a 13 % commission.
The Senate probe has expanded into alleged ownership of the Batangas farm by the Binay family, also largely based on Mercado’s allegations.
In today’s hearing, Mercado submitted to the committee copy of a Tax Declaration and Transfer Certificate of Title under the name of “Ernesto Mercado” to a 4.2 hectare piece of property located inside Hacienda Binay.
Mercado said he had copies of the documents secured from Batangas following reports on television that a piece of land in the farm is owned by him.
Mercado, placed under the Witness Protection Program after his expose against the Vice President in the Senate hearings, said he had not known that he had a property in Hacienda Binay until the television report.
But Mercado recalled that years ago when as Makati Vice Mayor he still had good relations with the Vice President, Binay once asked him to go to a bank in Batangas where he signed documents about a deed of sale covering a piece of property.
In previous committee hearings, Mercado also submitted documents over pieces of property in Hacienda Binay in the name of people he said were ‘dummies’ of Binay.