Binay arrives early in Yolanda Cabinet meeting

Natashya Gutierrez
Vice President Jejomar Binay is uncharacteristically early in a Cabinet meeting days after the President says he is free to leave

EARLY ARRIVAL. Vice President Jejomar Binay arrives early for a Cabinet meeting on Yolanda rehabilitation efforts just days after the President said he is free to leave the Cabinet. Malacañang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Two days after President Benigno Aquino III said Vice President Jejomar Binay is free to leave his Cabinet if he no longer agrees with where the administration is headed, the Vice President showed up early in a Cabinet meeting on Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) rehabilitation.

Binay, who Malacañang sources say, usually arrives right before Aquino comes, or even after meetings start, was earlier than usual, arriving ahead of many Cabinet members on Wednesday, November 5.

He was seated directly in front of the President. The meeting, which began at 10 am, is still ongoing as of posting.

Asked what the atmosphere of the meeting was like, presidential spokesperson said all were “focused on the task at hand.”

“All the Cabinet Secretaries, including the Vice President, were attentive to the discussion,” he said.

On Monday, Aquino said a “critical” Binay is “free to no longer join our movement” if he disagrees with the administration, and said he should offer constructive solutions rather than criticisms as part of the Cabinet.

“At the minimum, he is the Vice President of the land. He has criticisms…to be constructive he has to have solutions, and if he has some, I have not heard these solutions in these Cabinet meetings,” Aquino said.

In response, Binay said he will continue to be a “team player.”

Binay, the housing czar of the Aquino administration, was however credited by the President for doing his job well. He had delivered a speech weeks earlier, questioning decisions made by the administration, and had accused some of the President’s allies for plotting a demolition job against him.

The Vice President plans to run for the top post in 2016, while Aquino has yet to name his anointed candidate. The ruling Liberal Party (LP) is hoping the President will endorse Binay’s opponent in the 2010 vice presidential race, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. 

At the Yolanda meeting, Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said the President “will get updates on CRRP (Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan) implementation” as of the end of October, from Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation Panfilo Lacson and heads of clusters on resettlement, including the National Housing Authority, led by Binay.

Aquino will also be briefed on updates on infrastructure by the Department of Public Works and Highways, social services by the Department of Social Welfare and Development, livelihood by the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Labor and Employment, and support by the Department of Budget and Management and the National Economic and Development Authority.

By mid-afternoon, Lacierda said Aquino was “verifying all assumptions, determining if sufficient urgency is being shown and maximum effort done to ensure build back better is not only on track but can be expedited as much as possible and with clear deadlines and goals.”

Priorities and programs for 2015 will also be outlined.

Aquino is expected to visit Guiuan, Eastern Samar – one of the strongest-hit by Yolanda – on Friday, November 7, to mark the first anniversary since the world’s strongest typhoon to hit land struck the Philippines on November 8, 2013.  –

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