In his website, Jejomar Binay claims that he was “not born into wealth and political prestige, nor did he taste the privileges accorded to the scions of the rich and powerful.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Vice President Jejomar Binay’s battle cry since he ran for higher office is to turn the Philippines into a “Makati,” the country’s financial district, which his family has been lording over since the first EDSA uprising.
In the Office of the Vice President website, Binay said he “presided over the phenomenal growth of his Makati” and steered the city to what he referred to as once “backward municipality into a vibrant and modern metropolis.” He said he shared the “fruits of economic progress” to his constituents through social services.
This was his battle cry then and it remains the same now he is running for the country’s highest post. But is this promise sufficient enough to translate into a vote?
If proven scientific and credible, Binay had almost always led presidential surveys, even during the months when his family was being investigated for irregular government transactions in Makati City. As he stands today, however, the presidency is seemingly not yet in the bag.
Without the privileges of ‘scions’?
In his website, Jejomar Binay claims that he was “not born into wealth and political prestige, nor did he taste the privileges accorded to the scions of the rich and powerful.” Instead, he said, he was orphaned at a young age, and collected “kaning baboy” for his uncle’s piggery. He also worked to support his studies and eventually finished law school.
Those days, however, are long past.
During the first years of his public service, Binay’s 1988 Statement of Assets and Liabilities and Net Worth reflects a mere P2.53 million. More than two decades later, when he was voted vice president in 2010, his SALN reflected a whopping P58.1 million. His SALN increased by almost P2 million in 2014, amounting to P60.25 million.
A national daily estimated that Binay’s net worth had at least 2,300-percent increase since his appointment as Makati’s officer-in-charge after the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship, and then subsequently elected as mayor.
However, on top of these glossy SALN figures are issues of graft and corruption that continue to hound Binay and his children who also entered politics. Several plunder charges have been filed against Binay and son Junjun, who was dismissed as Makati mayor last year. Binay has yet to substantively shed light on these accusations. He continues to evade and dismiss these issues as mere politicking.
On people’s issues
Binay had showcased himself for his concerns on the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. He acknowledged the sacrifices that OFWs have made and how they have kept the economy afloat through the billions of remittances, which comprised at least a tenth of the country’s gross domestic product back in 2014.
Both in 2011 and 2013, Binay headed to China in last ditch efforts to save Filipinos on death row. He also flew to Jakarta before Mary Jane Veloso’s scheduled execution last year. Veloso, a Filipina on death row, was eventually spared, albeit temporarily, due to the local and international campaign to save her from the gallows.
He also daringly promised in one of his advertisements to scrap income tax for those earning below P30,000 monthly. He vowed to strengthen agriculture, manufacturing, business process outsourcing, and export. But contrary to these “promises” are pronouncements of amending the Constitution to further widen foreign ownership in the country. Progressives have long criticized such as anti-people and a sell-out of the country’s sovereignty.
He also favors large-scale foreign mining. Environmentalists gave Binay and Liberal Party’s presidential bet Mar Roxas “failing grades” for the lack, if not absence of progressive stands on various environmental issues.
Although a critic of the Aquino administration, Binay is riding on the conditional cash transfers, and promises expansion of its beneficiaries. But such government dole-out has proven to be less effective as a means to improve living conditions of many Filipinos, and more of a well of irregularities for its implementing agencies.
On human rights
Binay worked as a human rights lawyer during the dark years of martial law. But suffice to say, he kept mum on the issue, despite the bloody human rights records of succeeding administrations under the so-called restoration of democracy.
It is only of late that Binay has been vocal on human rights issues, especially on extrajudicial killings, as fellow presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, accused of masterminding a vigilante group in Davao City, has began leading the survey, putting Binay at the third spot.
Binay may not belong to the so-called landed and political families that have long dominated Philippine politics. But he no longer belongs to the toiling masses as well – no matter how hard he tries to portray it. He and his family also evaded shedding light on questions of irregularities that were begging to be answered, dismissing these as mere politicking.
He currently ranks third in the presidential polls. If the election was held today, Binay will have to leave with an empty bag.