Binay, other former Boy Scout officials facing graft charges over land sale

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) — Former Vice President Jejomar Binay and his former colleagues at the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP) will face preliminary investigation over an alleged anomalous land deal that cost the government millions of pesos in losses. 

The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday recommended the filing of graft charges against Binay, former BSP executives, and officials of Alphaland Makati Place, Inc. (AMPI).

Binay was BSP president for two decades. He supposedly approved the undervalued sale of a one-hectare BSP property to Alphaland in exchange for kickbacks.

The land along Malugay Street in Makati was supposedly sold to Alphaland in 2011 at only ₱600 million when its true value was ₱1.75 billion, the Ombudsman fact-finding investigation showed.

"The sale was grossly undervalued considering that under the Omnibus Loan and Security Agreement between BSP and AMPI, the Malugay property was mortgaged for P1,750,000,000.00 which is indicative of the property's true value," the Ombudsman said.

It added the property's total appraised value including improvements was over ₱10 billion in 2015.

Section 3(e) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-graft and Corrupt Practices Act makes it punishable for public officials and employees to give private entities unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in government transactions. The same goes for private individuals who enter deals "grossly disadvantageous" to the government.

Those found guilty face imprisonment of up to 10 years, perpetual disqualification from public office, and forfeiture of unexplained wealth.

Graft charges were also recommended against former officers of the Bureau of Internal Revenue for certifying the questionable sale as exempt from capital gains tax, resulting in a P63-million loss in revenues.

The Ombudsman also recommended the filing of an administrative complaint against Binay and former BSP officials for gross neglect of duty.

Binay's camp said the charges are baseless, and accused Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales of "selective justice."

"Clearly, the Ombudsman intends to spend her last days in office pursuing her personal and political agenda against former VP Binay while being a true-blue Yellow protector to the end," Binay's spokesperson, Joey Salgado said in a statement.

Binay is also facing corruption charges at the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan over the allegedly overpriced Makati Parking Building worth ₱2.8 billion.