A year after defeat, Jejomar Binay back to what he loves most
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The political spotlight may no longer be on former vice president Jejomar Binay, but he continues to do what he does best – and loves the most – a year after he lost a grueling presidential campaign.
These days, Binay is devoting time to running the JC Binay Foundation, which he and his friends formed in 2005 for charitable projects in Makati City. (READ: CAMPAIGN NOTES: 10 things I learned while covering Jejomar Binay)
The former presidential candidate also acts as a consultant at the Makati-based Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza, and Binay law office. (READ: What's next for VP Binay?)
For those close to Binay, the man who built a campaign around his "nognog" or dark skin and rags-to-riches story, nothing makes him happier than walking on the streets and talking to people.
"Aside from the foundation, he continues to visit wakes and make the rounds of Makati's barangays," said Joey Salgado, Binay's former campaign communications director.
Salgado said Binay, Makati mayor for a total of 21 years, also continued the habit of sending congratulatory letters to people who are given awards or who are celebrating their birthdays.
"He continues to write personal letters. 'Yung mga nababasa niya sa diyaryo na nabigyan ng (These are the people he would read about in the newspapers who received) awards or recognitions, birthday greetings, etc. He has been doing that since he was mayor," said Salgado.
Binay was the early front runner in the 2016 presidential polls. But his numbers plummeted after a 20-month Senate investigation that dug up multiple allegations of corruption and unexplained wealth eroded his popularity. (READ: Jejomar Binay's impossible dream)
Binay, who dreamed of becoming president since he was a child, would later emerge 4th in the 5-way presidential race.
He only called to congratulate the victor, President Rodrigo Duterte, 3 days after May 9, 2016. Binay's public appearances have since become rare. The media last saw him at the 80th birthday of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada in April.
More family time
Life is quieter now for Binay, who has chosen to step away from the limelight after his first electoral loss in 3 decades.
Salgado said this has allowed Binay to spend more time with his family, especially his 13 grandchildren.
Binay's daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, has been posting pictures of her father on family trips on social media.
Binay has also continued his daily morning exercise, which helped the 74-year-old go from one sortie to another during the campaign period.
"Of course, the morning walks didn't stop. The morning after the elections, he was walking [at the Manila] Film Center," said Salgado.
After being in politics for nearly 3 decades, Binay seems headed to a new career path.
"Lately, madalas kausap mga taga-UMak (University of Makati) tungkol sa law school (Lately, he talks to people from UMak about the law school)," said Salgado.
There are plans to create the UMak School of Law. Salgado said the university board has invited Binay to become dean, but nothing has been finalized yet.
UMak is also still waiting for the approval of the Legal Education Board before it can open the law school.
Lawyer JV Bautista, secretary-general of Binay's United Nationalist Alliance during the campaign, posted a picture of Binay attending a meeting on the planned law school, along with Binay's former spokesperson, lawyer Rico Quicho.
Ongoing court battles
While the public may no longer be scrutinizing his every step, Binay still sometimes lands in the headlines.
The former vice president and his son, former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, face charges of graft, malversation, and falsification of public documents for the allegedly overpriced construction of the P2.2-billion Makati City Hall parking building.
Binay's wife, Elenita, is facing a number of charges before the Sandiganbayan over several allegedly anomalous contracts and projects in Makati when she was mayor.
The former vice president and his wife have asked the anti-graft court to allow them to travel to Israel "for a spiritually charged pilgrimage" from May 15 to 29. The Sandiganbayan has yet to rule on their request as of posting. (READ: Prosecutors make it hard for Binays to go on a trip to Israel) – Rappler.com