MANILA, Philippines – Imagine the Philippines under a President Jejomar Binay.
The Vice President, standard-bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), was the first to declare his 2016 presidential bid. The former Makati mayor of 21 years, Binay boasts of a CEO-type leadership that supposedly improved the country’s financial district. Yet corruption allegations and a notorious political dynasty saddle his childhood dream to be president.
Binay, 72, believes the Philippines needs leaders with managerial skills and experience in local government. He is a former housing czar and presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) concerns. Binay promises pro-poor governance and inclusive growth, building on his rags-to-riches story as an orphan who became a human rights lawyer.
As part of Rappler #PHvote’s “The Leader I Want” series, we look at Binay’s stand on key issues that the next president will have to address: corruption, social inequality, climate change and disasters, foreign policy, OFWs, and the peace process.
Tell us in the comments section below or tweet using #TheLeaderIWant why or why not Jejomar Binay should be the next leader of the country.
Binay and his family face various plunder and graft investigations for allegedly overpriced Makati infrastructure projects. The Senate, the Ombudsman, and the Anti-Money Laundering Council are looking into allegations the Binays rigged bids, used dummies, and amassed wealth and aacquired A lavish estate using public funds.
The Vice President’s political allies also face plunder charges for the pork barrel corruption scam. Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr allegedly funneled development funds for the poor to their own pockets. Binay’s critics fear he will go slow on their cases, or pardon them if he becomes president.
Here is where Binay stands on corruption:
- Continue the Aquino administration’s anti-corruption campaign, calling it a “very good program”
- Be a “unifying,” not vindictive president, only going after corrupt officials if there is strong evidence
- Avoid selective justice in the prosecution of pork barrel scam cases
- Push for an increase in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units to avoid corruption.
- Be an honest president to boost the economy and attract foreign investors
2. Social inequality
Binay often talks about addressing hunger, poverty, unemployment and inequality in his speeches.
His main criticism of the Aquino administration is that its stellar economic performance did not trickle down to the poor. Inclusive growth is his key campaign message.
Here is how he plans to address the problem:
- Raise infrastructure spending from the current 3% of GDP to 5% of GDP
- Diversify the Philippine economy to give equal focus to job-generating sectors like manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism, on top of the business process outsourcing (BPO) boom, and OFW remittances
- Lift economic restrictions in the Constitution to attract foreign investment in sectors like infrastructure, energy and telecommunications
- Liberalize government regulations for business startups, and give SMEs access to finance and information
- Reform the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to lower power costs, and address the energy shortage
- Modernize agriculture to raise farmers’ productivity, one of the lowest in the region, and correct inefficiencies in the supply chain that allow 8 layers of middlemen
- Speed up the implementation of Public Private Partnership or PPP programs, particularly in the transport sector
- Channel economic gains to better public transport systems, airports, roads, bridges, schools, and hospitals
- Raise workers’ productivity through expanded and aligned technical vocational education
- Expand subsidies for college education, and technical-vocational training
- Install water systems and provide potable water to every barangay (village), and ensure that power and medicine reach even the most remote ones
3. Climate change and disasters
Binay said that, as mayor of Makati, he ensured that the city would have the “best possible” disaster risk reduction and management framework. In a primer published in 2008, the World Bank cited Makati’s efforts on climate change and disaster risk reduction.
As vice president, Binay was chairman of Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and head of the resettlement cluster for Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
Binay said the following must be done to address climate change and disasters:
- Review the system of disaster management up to the barangay level, particularly warning and prepositioning of relief goods
- Equally emphasize the use of renewable energy, specifically hydro power as a cheap alternative
- Implement the goal of increasing to 50% the use of renewable energy in the Philippine energy mix by 2030
- Implement the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, with the energy department completing renewable energy service contracts, and helping developers address issues related to feed-in tariff rates
- Implement the disaster risk reduction and management, and climate change laws at the local level. National agencies must mainstream risk reduction in their specific sectors. Local governments must assume functions in the provincial, city or municipal levels
- Collaborate in retrofitting infrastructure, capacity building, establishing early warning systems, updating building codes, and urban planning
- Use multi-sectoral partnerships in providing disaster-resilient housing
- Create jobs in rural areas to reduce informal settlers in disaster-prone urban sites
- Strictly implement laws on land use, and the plan to relocate informal settler families from danger zones
- Strictly enforce rules requiring developers to show clearances from the Mines and Geo-Hazards Bureau before starting housing projects near waterways
4. Foreign policy
As vice president, Binay often represented President Benigno Aquino III in foreign summits, gathering, and trips.
He became controversial for saying he seeks to enter into a joint venture with China on the disputed South China Sea, a departure from Aquino’s hardline stance against Beijing. He is viewed as more conciliatory to China than Aquino.
Here are Binay’s thoughts on foreign policy:
- Enter into a joint venture with China to develop natural resources in the South China Sea
- Pursue the Philippines’ claims on the Spratly Islands but aim for “warm” bilateral relations with China, especially in trade and investment. He said, “China has the money. We need capital.”
- Continue to pursue a solution to the dispute based on international law by going for arbitration
- Support the conclusion of a binding Code of Conduct on the South China Sea between ASEAN and China
- Improve infrastructure and adjust the labor force’s skills to make the Philippines more competitive for ASEAN integration
- Use ASEAN integration to raise foreign direct investments in the Philippines, and eradicate poverty
As the former presidential adviser on OFW concerns, Binay went to countries like China and Indonesia to plead for the lives of migrant Filipinos on death row, with mixed success. He also attempted to raise blood money for other OFWs who faced execution.
His office received requests for repatriation, assistance on salary and benefits claim, and legal assistance. He said his goal is to make migration a matter of “choice, not a necessity.”
Binay was also the chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, and the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment.
Here are Binay’s plans for OFWs:
- Strengthen support mechanisms for OFWs like legal defense, and protection from illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and reintegration of returning workers
- Ensure Filipinos go abroad through proper and legal channels by strengthening the anti-trafficking network composed of families, local and national governments, and institutions like the Church, and social welfare organizations
- Increase the Department of Foreign Affairs’ legal assistance fund for OFWs
6. Peace process, autonomy and livelihood for Mindanao
Unlike Aquino, Binay is not a strong supporter of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), an outcome of the historic peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Still, the Vice President has admitted that he has not yet read the BBL, and has reservations about it.
At the height of the Mamasapano crisis that endangered the peace process, Binay was critical of how the administration treated the elite cops, saying he wants “peace with justice and accountability.”
Binay criticized presidential peace adviser Teresita “Ging” Deles’ response to the tragedy:
“She went to great lengths to justify the actions of the MILF which we find very unfortunate. How can one justify the brutality inflicted on the wounded SAF officers who were shot in the head and stripped of their uniforms and personal effects? That it is not the MILF but a cabinet secretary defending the brutality is disturbing to say the least,” Binay said.
Here are Binay’s views on the peace process:
- The BBL must adhere to the Constitution, particularly the provisions on territorial sovereignty.
- The government must address concerns that the bill will create a substate, not an autonomous region.
- The government must address concerns that the BBL does not give local governments “equal treatment” in the sharing of resources and the police force it provides the Bangsamoro region.
- The government must engage with stakeholders other than the MILF including Christians, indigenous peoples like the Lumads, and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF)
- The government must not rush and railroad the BBL. It must not insist that the BBL must pass “all or nothing.”