Binay Wins Mayoralty Race despite Political Harassment

Makati City’s reelectionist mayor Jejomar Binay and his camp have prevailed over maneuvers by his opponents, first, to strip him of his powers; and later ease some of the candidates on his slate off the race.

Vol. VII, No. 15 May 20-26, 2007

If there is anything worth learning from the victory of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay and his entire ticket, it is that opposing the President and being at the receiving end of political harassment and intimidation could endear a politician to the electorate.

Jejomar Binay and his entire ticket arrived at the Makati Coliseum a few hours before sunrise, confident that they would win the polls in the city where lies the country’s primary business district. And indeed, Binay and his entire ticket won by a landslide over all their opponents, second 20-0 sweep for them.

At past 6 a.m. on May 17, at the end of the two-day canvassing of votes registered in the city’s 1,834 precincts, Binay was shown to have received 198,814 votes over his closest rival, Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid; while a third candidate, Elias Dulalia, got only 1,243 votes. Binay’s running mate Ernesto Mercado had 151,431 votes – or 102,975 more than those of his closest rival, Nemesio Yabut, Jr., received only 48,456. District I Rep. Teodoro Locsin, Jr. was reelected with 85,958 votes – or 68,469 more than those of his closest opponent, former Councilor Oscar Ibay, who got 17,489. Binay’s daughter, Abigail, won in District II’s congressional race with 70,904 votes, while her opponent Erwin Genuino – son of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) chairman Ephraim Genuino – got 41,191. Binay’s son Jejomar Jr., a reelectionist, topped the race for councilor in District I, beating Anthony “Ton” Genuino, brother of Erwin.

Binay’s camp won despite attempts of their political opponents to artificially increase their votes. On the second day of the canvassing, for example, pollwatchers discovered three vote-padding incidents. In three statements of votes, the votes of Anthony “Ton” Genuino appeared to have been padded by 1,000 votes each. This delayed the canvassing of votes by several hours.

That same day, there were a few hundred supporters of the Genuino brothers who went to the Coliseum grounds, threatening to stop the proclamation in case the Binay camp won. They accused the Binay camp of corruption. They left, however, hours before the winning candidates could be proclaimed.

Before that – during the counting of votes at the precinct level – the Makati team of the Peoples’ International Observers Mission (Peoples’ IOM) reported that Ephraim Genuino, president of Pagcor and father of the two Genuino candidates, accompanied by two armed men, entered a precinct and demanded information on the results.

This is not the first time that the Binay camp made what the city’s mayor-elect described as a “clean sweep” in the elections. In the 2001 elections, he and his slate also had a 20-0 sweep. The next elections in 2004 saw a “near-sweep” as only one of his candidates for councilor lost.

Binay, for his part, has won in all elections in which he competed for the Makati City mayoralty since 1988.

From 1988 to 1998, he served as Makati’s mayor for three consecutive terms. Constitutionally mandated term limits prevented him from running for the same post in the 1998 elections, in which his wife Elenita – a doctor by profession – ran and got elected.

He once again ran for the Makati mayoralty in 2001, and successfully so. He will be serving his third term since 2001 when he takes his oath next month.

His last term has proven to be the most controversial so far. He was slapped a suspension order twice – once last year and the second time just days before the May 14 elections – on allegations that he was maintaining ghost employees. In both instances, widespread protests from Makati City residents – many of whom barricaded at City Hall – prevented the suspension orders from being carried out.

“The people of Makati have spoken,” Binay said when asked what he had to say to Malacañang considering his camp’s victory at the polls. “And this reflects the general trend. The NCR (National Capital Region) is really opposition country.”

While he said that he is popular to the residents, Makati City’s businessmen usually complain of how “difficult” it is to start businesses in this city.

Binay has also endeared himself to cause-oriented groups, allowing (and sometimes even leading) various protest actions in Makati City.

When he was still a student at the University of the Philippines (UP), he joined rallies against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and the Marcos regime. From 1970 to 1972, he became a member of the Lupon ng Mananggol ng Bayan (Lumaban or Network of People’s Lawyers), which defended ralliers arrested during protest actions among other things.

In 1973, a year after then President Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law, Binay was detained.

Upon his release, he joined the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) which was founded by nationalist and civil libertarian Jose W. Diokno, who had himself been detained by the Marcos dictatorship. He later co-founded the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity, nationalism and Independence (MABINI) with Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Augusto “Bobbit” Sanchez, Fulgencio Factoran, and Igmidio Tanjuatco.

He joined the August Twenty One Movement (ATOM) after the assassination of opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. on Aug. 21, 1983.

He was appointed as officer-in-charge of Makati on Feb. 27, 1986 – two days after Marcos was ousted through a popular uprising.(

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