Makati officials to sue Inquirer, former vice mayor
MANILA, Philippines – Current and former Makati city officials will be pressing charges against the Philippine Daily Inquirer, reporter Nancy Carvajal, and former Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado for a “libelous, malicious and defamatory article” that came out on October 11.
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In a statement to media on Monday, October 13, the chief of Makati City's legal department, Pio Kenneth Dasal, said “concerned incumbent and former officials of the city government have agreed to hail to court Vice Mayor Mercado and both the newspaper and the author of the malicious and defamatory article that has unduly caused serious harm to their reputation.”
The statement did not specify who the city officials are.
According to the Inquirer report bearing Carvajal's byline, city officials got around P4 billion in kickbacks from 10 infrastructure projects. Mercado, who is also one of the lead “whistle blowers” in a Senate probe into an allegedly overpriced Makati building, told Inquirer: “Twenty-eight percent from every project was shared by the mayor down to the lowest official in the web involved in the conspiracy.”
Vice President Jejomar Binay, then mayor of Makati, allegedly got a 13% kickback from city projects. Mercado told the Senate he was Binay’s bagman during this time.
Dasal accused Carvajal of “extreme prejudice by portraying certain city officials in a bad light merely on the basis of unverified statements coming from a person known to be a bitter political rival of the current local leadership.”
The Makati officials also criticized Inquirer for “their apparent intention to mislead the reading public into believing that they are guilty of the allegations being made against them.”
They said the “documents” (emphasis theirs) obtained by Carvajal either showed “facts that are already a matter of public record” or were of “questionable authenticity.”
Binay and Mercado used to be political allies but parted ways in 2010 when the older Binay failed his promise of letting Mercado run for mayor. Instead, Binay fielded his son, now Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
Although the Senate probe was sparked by a plunder complaint over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2, former Binay allies and Makati officials have since taken turns telling stories of other alleged forms of corruption by the Binay family.
During an October 8 hearing, Mercado said the Binay family owns a 350 hectare-farm in Batangas. The Vice President's camp has branded the testimonies as politically motivated and unfounded attacks.
Dasal, in the statement, said the officials were “in consultation with their respective legal counsels” on what legal action they should take. – Rappler.com