MANILA, Philippines – With a program rivaling a noontime show, Vice President Jejomar Binay launched his opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in traditional Philippine political fanfare.
Binay came out swinging against the administration in a keynote address at the party launch in Makati Coliseum on Wednesday, July 1, where he also championed UNA’s vision of “pro-poor,” inclusive governance.
Upon taking his oath as UNA chairman, Binay took a swipe at the administration’s supposed slow and ineffective leadership. He alluded to criticism of the Aquino government’s delayed projects and services.
Binay was a member of the Cabinet, holding two positions, for 5 years until he resigned last week.
“Ang UNA ay hindi samahan ng mga palpak at manhid! Hindi ito samahan ng tamad, usad-pagong at teka-teka!”
(UNA is not a fellowship of failed, insensitive leaders! This is not a fellowship of people who are lazy, snail-paced, and indecisive!)
He shouted: “Hirap na tayo sa manhid at palpak na pamahalaan, siraan, turuan at pambobola, sa kaunlarang iilan lang ang nakikinabang!”
(We are tired of this insensitive and failed government, of mudslinging, finger-pointing, and flattery, of growth that only a few benefit from!)
Binay then launched into a litany of the alleged failures of the government, repeating his mantra of a “manhid at palpak” (insensitive and failed) administration.
He peppered his speech with the line, “Nasaan ang gobyerno?” (Where is the government?)
“Sa loob ng 5 taon, napakarami pa rin ang walang trabaho, nagugutom, maysakit na walang pagamutan, mga batang ‘di makapag-aral, talamak ang krimen at ilegal na droga. Nasaan ang gobyerno?”
(In the span of 5 years, so many were jobless, hungry, sick without medical services, children unable to go to school, widespread crime, and illegal drugs. Where is the government?)
He again referred to the poor Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system, and the Mamasapano crisis that left 44 elite policemen dead – themes he first criticized in his speech last week, when he explained his decision to resign from the Aquino Cabinet.
“Ang dasal ng pasahero ng MRT ay wala sanang aberyang mangyari sa sinasakyan nilang running ‘train coffin.’ Nasaan ang gobyerno?”
(The prayer of the MRT commuter is that there will be no glitch in the running train coffin. Where is the government?)
He added: “Nagbuwis ng buhay ang SAF 44. Nagkaroon ng katakot-takot na imbestigasyon at report, pero walang kaso. Nasaan ang gobyerno?”
(The 44 members of the Special Action Force gave up their lives. There were so many investigations and reports, but still no cases were filed. Where is the government?)
Binay also took a swipe at neophyte Senator Grace Poe, who recently overtook him in presidential preference surveys.
“[Dapat] may sapat na karanasan at hindi bagitong mag-aaral pa lang sa pamamahala at pagsisilbi sa bayan,” said the UNA leader.
(A leader must have enough experience, and not be a new student in governance and public service.)
Jobs, education, health
Binay then sought to present an alternative program of government. He said UNA has 3 pillars: social and basic services, economic dynamism, and effective and caring governance.
He said he will create jobs by investing in 5 key sectors: agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, business process outsourcing (BPOs), and exports.
“We will expand basic education, subsidize higher education. We will give aid for uniforms, school supplies, books, food for students. We will fix the classroom backlog, address the situation of teachers who have long been neglected by this government,” Binay said in Filipino.
The Vice President said he will support state colleges and universities develop expertise in food security and agriculture.
He repeatedly pointed to the services he said he initiated as Makati mayor of 21 years, saying he plans to expand these to the entire Philippines.
“We will give preventive health care, nutrition, support for local governments whose primary mandate is to protect the health of constituents. We will care for health workers in all levels. What will create more jobs, ensure simpler and faster processes for registration, tax, permits,” Binay said.
The Vice President delivered a line that many netizens criticized in the wake of the refusal of Binay’s son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, to heed a suspension order in relation to the allegedly overpriced Makati Science High School.
“‘Pag tayo sa UNA ay nagkamali, ‘di tayo maninisi o magbibintang sa iba. Aakuin natin ang responsibilidad,” Binay said. (When we in UNA make mistakes, we will not blame other people. We will take accountability.)
Binay was silent on his party’s plan to eradicate corruption. The Vice President faces multiple investigations and complaints over allegedly overpriced Makati infrastructure projects, the use of dummies, and land deals that supposedly disadvantaged Makati and the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.
Besides Binay, UNA elected new officers, merely making permanent the posts of its interim officials. The officers are:
- President – Navotas Representative Tobias “Toby” Tiangco
- Vice President – Senator Gregorio Honasan II
- Secretary-general – Lawyer JV Bautista
- Treasurer – Former finance secretary Margarito Teves
Malacañang was quick to react to the Vice President’s tirades. On Wednesday evening, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr texted reporters: “The Aquino administration stands on its record of having restored the pride and dignity of the Filipino nation. On a platform of good governance, we have expanded the coverage of social protection and laid the foundations for inclusive growth. We trust in our people’s sense of fairness and capacity for discernment in choosing future leaders who will continue the reforms and sustain the long term transformation of Philippine society and polity.”
When showbiz meets politics
Binay’s party launch was a mix of Philippine politics and entertainment.
Love Radio DJs Nicole Hyala and Chris Tuper hosted the program, with their trademark green jokes.
There were songs and dances, with Sarangani Representative Manny Pacquiao and Binay singing at one point.
UNA also presented video testimonials of dialysis patients and poor residents who thanked Binay for providing them health and basic services.
“I hope I become part of your staff in Malacañang,” said Princess Martinez, a 21-year-old kidney transplant survivor.
Binay and his party mates – a number of whom are allies of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – enjoyed the show, repeatedly laughing at the jokes.
With confetti falling, emcee Erwin Maceda punctuated the show by hailing the man of the hour: “UNA si Jojo Binay!” – Rappler.com