Acting Mayor Kid Peña has suspended the release of any assistance Makati City is giving to more than 600 sister-cities, GMA News TV’s News To Go reported on Monday.
Peña was quoted as saying that billions of pesos worth of Makati resources have been diverted in the guise of the sister-city agreements.
The report said Peña will order an audit of the funds released as it could have been used by Vice President Jejomar Binay to further his political interests.
“I am confident that our partner LGUs will understand. I believe that by doing this, the city will not only serve the interest of truth and accountability, it will also strengthen its ties with its partner local government organizations based on the common pursuit of good governance and not patronage politics,” said the acting city mayor.
Citing media reports, Peña said Makati has the most number of sister cities with 670.
The huge number is in contrast to Quezon City, the biggest and one of the wealthiest cities in the country, which has only 19 sister cities.
Manila has 40 sister cities while Davao City has 10, Peña said.
Peña said the controversy over the Makati Friendship Suites was also among the factors which prompted him to suspend the ordinances declaring the sister-city pacts.
The Makati Friendship Suites is a hotel allegedly being used to give free accommodations to guests from Makati’s sister cities and municipalities.
In 2002 During Vice President Binay’s mayoral stint in 2002, the city bought three buildings from Home Guaranty Corporation for P17.2-million.
The buildings were supposed to be a housing project and relocation site for informal settlers.
Joey Salgado, the chief of Binay’s media affairs office, had earlier argued that the city government already purchased parcels of land in Bulacan and Laguna for Makati’s informal settlers when the hotel was completed.
Mayor Junjun Binay, the son of the Vice President, was suspended by the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with his alleged involvement in the supposedly overpriced Makati Science High School building.
Joey Salgado, the chief of Binay’s media affairs office, said there was nothing wrong with sister-city agreements adding that was even encouraged by the Department of Interior and Local Governments.
Salgado was quoted as saying that under DILG memorandum circular 97-306, Makati City was given an authority to provide vehicles, books, and tables to its sister-cities which are mostly 4th and 5th class municipalities.
He added that it was the local government units concerned that requested that they be recognized as a sister-cities of Makati.
Meanwhile, Peña has also ordered a stop to the release of the salaries of Vice President Binay’s longtime secretary Ebeng Baloloy.
Baloloy was the Vice President’s secretary when he was still mayor of the city.
She was implicated as one of Binay’s alleged dummies during the Senate investigation into the allegations of graft the Vice President supposedly committed when he was the city mayor.