Kid Peña’s staff now using Junjun Binay’s 21st floor office in city hall
MANILA, Philippines – After being left unoccupied for almost 4 months, the Office of the Mayor in the Makati city hall was again filled with employees on Tuesday, November 24.
It was not the first time the office has been occupied since the suspension and eventual departure of dismissed Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. Several staff members of acting Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr told Rappler that they had been occupying the office for about two weeks.
Peña, who previously vowed to work away from the 21st floor mayor's office, said his staff needed the space to accommodate the increasing number of Makati residents seeking his help.
“[May staff na ako sa 21st floor] kasi nga nahihirapan na kami. Ano na kami sa baba, delata na kami, lalo na pag people’s day,” said Peña.
(I have staff members on the 21st floor because we’re having a difficult time meeting the needs of the people downstairs. We’re like canned fish there, especially when it’s people’s day.)
He added that his own use of the mayor’s office is restricted to officiating weddings. He holds office instead at the Acting Mayor’s Office on the ground floor. The location was once used to process business permits until the Makati city government transferred the function to another floor to accommodate Peña and his staff.
The office was the subject of controversy a few months back, when Binay finally left the capitol. Binay initially defied a preventive suspension order and remained on the 21st floor.
He told members of the media that he slept on the couch inside his office. The office, however, had well-furnished living quarters previously hidden from the public view, including a queen-sized bed, kitchen, dining area, living room, and bathrooms.
Members of Binay’s staff who used to occupy the 21st floor have been noticeably absent since Peña assumed the mayoral seat.
Peña said in July that the office still belonged to Binay, as he was only suspended at the time.
A change of heart?
There have been changes in the city hall, now that the Ombudsman dismissed Binay and barred him from holding public office.
More and more framed photos of Peña in his barong, the Makati city government logo and the Philippine flag behind him, are seen in several department offices. His smiling face is plastered on posters and tarpaulins around the establishment, where Peña is pictured holding the signature yellow health card of Makati.
Peña is eyeing the 2016 mayoral seat, running against Binay’s sister and incumbent Makati Second District Representative Abigail Binay as well as art director Jimmy “Jimboy” Jumawan. (READ: Was Abby Binay kicked out of her Makati city hall office?)
“Yeah, you can say that na kumportable ako kasi nafifeel ko nadedeliver ko naman ‘yung mga services e. Although siyempre may mga ilang aspeto na ‘di kaya, may mga kaya,” Peña said.
(Yeah, you can say that I’m comfortable because I feel that I'm delivering the services the mayor should be delivering. Of course, we're doing well in some aspects, while others need to be improved.)
Still, many offices in the city hall have framed photos of Binay, as well as his father, former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Some employees continue to put on display calendars bearing a photo of the whole Binay clan.
Peña now considers himself the mayor of Makati, but he understands there is still a pending motion for reconsideration.
“Ako para sa akin, [ako na ‘yung] mayor kasi dismissed na si Mayor Junjun. Kaya lang, just for the sake na may hinihintay pa siya na [motion for reconsideration], we’re doing that, ‘yung pagiging acting mayor,” Peña said.
(For me personally, I am now the mayor because Mayor Junjun was dismissed. However, they are still waiting for the decision on their motion for reconsideration, so we’re still considering myself as the acting mayor.)
“Puro serbisyo na lang [muna] ako (I’m focused on being of service for now),” he added.
Sought for a reaction, the Binay camp offered no comment. – Rappler.com