Kid Peña: I don’t consider the Binays as my enemies

Mara Cepeda
Kid Peña: I don’t consider the Binays as my enemies

Mark Saludes

Acting Makati Mayor Kid Peña files his certificate of candidacy to get his own mandate as mayor. He will likely be challenged by one of the Binay children

MANILA, Philippines – The acting mayor of Makati City drew attention entering the Makati Coliseum on his bike. Wearing a black shirt that has a lightning bolt printed on it, Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr then announced to a crowd of about 4,000 that he is running to get his own mandate as city mayor.

Ngayong umaga pong ito, dinedeklara ko na ako po ay humaharap sa sambayanang Makati at sinasabing handa po akong lumaban para sa pagkapinuno ng lungsod,” Peña said on Monday, October 12, the first day of filing of certificates of candidacies for the 2016 elections.

(I face the residents of Makati this morning to declare that I am ready to slug it out as chief of this city.)

Hindi ko na po puwedeng palagpasin ang mga bagay na ‘tinitibok ng aking puso…. Naiintindihan ko [na] sa lahat ng bahagi ng buhay ng tao, tayo po ay dapat humarap sa kung ano ang nakatakda po sa atin.” 

(I can no longer ignore what my heart tells me to do…. We have to face what is destined for us.)

Peña, the elected vice mayor, is serving as Makati City mayor in an acting capacity following the 6-month preventive suspension of Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr upon the orders of the Ombudsman.

Peña on Monday also delivered his State of the City Address (SOCA) to boast of his supposed achievements in during his first 100 days as acting mayor. 

He got teary-eyed in the middle of his speech when he recounted how difficult it was to be the lone administration candidate who won a post in a city ruled by the family and allies of opposition leader Vice President Jejomar Binay.

IN TEARS. Peña wipes his tears as he delivers his SOCA on October 12. Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler

Mayor Binay, congresswomen Monique Lagdameo and Abigail Binay, as well as most of the incumbent city councilors are all part of the United Nationalist Alliance. (READ: Running for Makati mayor? History shows odds will be against Kid Peña)

Naisip ko, sa lahat ng pagkakataon, nakita ‘nyo po kung paano sunugin ang aking mga T-shirt, kung paano pilasin ang aking mga tarpaulin sa mga graduation,” said Peña, who was reported to have been allegedly bullied because of political differences with Mayor Binay and his allies. (I remember the times when [their operators] burned my campaign T-shirts and when my tarpaulins were removed during graduation programs.)

Still, said Peña, he does not consider the Binay family as his rivals.

Magpangayon pong araw na ito, hindi ko po ‘tinuturing na kalaban ang mga Binay. Ilang ulit na sinubukan ko pong lumapit at sabihin ang aking paliwanag,” he said. (Even today, I don’t consider the Binays as my enemies. I tried many times to explain my side to them.)

Pero kapag ang ‘nilagay po sa sangkalan ay ang pagmamahal na tapat sa taong-bayan ng Makati, hindi po ako puwedeng umatras,” Pena added, earning him applause from the crowd. (But if what’s at stake is genuine concern for the people of Makati, I cannot back out.)


Peña had a good relationship with the Binay family when he was still barangay chairman and city councilor. Things changed when Peña became the guest vice mayor candidate of Ernesto Mercado, who ran for mayor in 2010 but lost to Mayor Binay.

Peña is likely to face one of the Binay siblings in the 2016 elections.

‘Bagong Makati’

NEWBIE. Karla Mercado joins the political fray for the first time. Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler

During the program, Peña formally introduced his running mate: political neophyte Karla Mercado, the daughter of former Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado.

The elder Mercado is a political rival of ex-Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay. Ernesto Mercado was among those who testified before the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigating the corruption allegations against Binay and his family.

Karla Mercado said she initially told Peña that she just wanted to serve under the city’s Social Welfare Department should he win as mayor, but he offered her to be his running mate.

Itong dumating na pagkakataon na magkausap kami, sinasabi nga sa akin kung puwede kaming magkasama, of course, oo gusto ko. Bakit hindi? Dahil panahon na para maramdaman ng mga taga-Makati kung ano ang serbisyo,” she said.

(When the time came that we were able to talk and he offered me the position, of course, I wanted it. Why not? It’s about time the people of Makati know how true service feels like.)

The Peña-Mercado tandem filed their certificates of candidacy together with the other local LP candidates at the Commission on Elections’ office in Makati after the SOCA:

Position Name
Congressman, District 1 Barangay Magallanes kagawad Nico Garcia
Councilors, District 1

Virgilio Batalla

Mario Cruz

Jocelyn Hernandez

Raymond Kahiwat

Nilo Lopez

Jessielyn Trinidad

Victorio Umandap

Jose Villena IV

Congressman, District 2 Councilor Israel “Boyet” Cruzado
Councilors, District 2

Efren Arenas

Ernesto Aspillaga

Jeffrey Baluyot

Judith Celos

Artermio Contreras II

Mario Hechanova

Hilario Lorico

Kristina Sarosa

One of Peña’s candidates for councilor, Hechanova, also testified before senators about the supposed rigging of bids in Makati City under the Binay administration.

Kahiwat, meanwhile, is a spokesperson for the United Makati Against Corruption group, which has staged protests against the Binays.

They are all running under the slogan “Bagong Makati (New Makati),” which Peña promises if elected as mayor.

Ang paglilingkod na may kalinga at puso, yan po ang handog ng ‘Bagong Makati’ (Service with care, that is the gift of ‘Bagong Makati’),” said Peña.

Peña’s SOCA

CROWD-PLEASER. Peña's grand entrance was a hit in the Makati Coliseum. Photo by Mark Saludes/Rappler

Before Peña introduced his slate, he highlighted his 10-point agenda for Makati as acting mayor:

  1. “Makati First” policy
  2. Increasing benefits for senior citizens
  3. Welfare of city government employees
  4. Improving city’s disaster risk reduction and management efforts
  5. Taking care of the poor
  6. Giving respect and importance to persons with disabilities and city service workers
  7. Love for the environment
  8. Decent jobs
  9. Education
  10. 10. Peace and order for the city’s development

During his 50-minute speech, Peña emphasized the improvement of the city’s services for senior citizens. He said that the Makati Health Department and the Ospital ng Makati worked together to provide ambulatory medical services to households with elderly residents.

He said that he is working with concerned city hall departments so the cash benefits received by beneficiaries of the Blu Card benefit-program for the elderly will be increased from P3,000 to P10,000 as well.

Peña also addressed the graft complaint he is facing for supposedly overpricing the birthday cakes for senior citizens, which is now produced by Goldilocks.

Handa po tayong harapin ang lahat at handa ako lumaban para sa inyo,” he said, adding that the bidding process for the cakes was transparent. (I am ready to face this and I am ready to fight for the people of Makati.)

Peña also recounted that the productivity enhancement bonus incentive has been given to city hall workers and the automation of the city’s payroll system is currently on going.

The Makati mayor hopeful also said he plans to provide free Internet connection services to the whole city.

As for the poor sector, the acting mayor said it is unfortunate that there are still informal settlers in Makati.

However, he said that the city government is working hard to improve its relocation programs and the basic services being provided to the poor. If Peña had his way, he said he prefers in-city resettlement homes. –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.