Abby Binay: Running for mayor a ‘big sacrifice’

MANILA, Philippines – Makati Second District Representative Abigail “Abby” Binay said  on Wednesday, October 28, that if she had her way, she would not run for Makati mayor.

“Do I have a choice?  I guess not. Kailangan e (I had to). Someone has to step onto the plate. It’s a big sacrifice.  I was really looking forward to retiring and taking care of my daughter. It’s a big sacrifice for my daughter as well,” Abby said  in an interview on ANC's Headstart.

Her family, and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of her father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, needed a "viable" candidate against acting mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr of the Liberal Party, the lawmaker said.

Kailangan 'yung ifi-field mong kalaban, ‘yung may ibubuga naman, ‘yung may fighting chance against the sitting mayor (You have to field a candidate who has something to offer, who has a fighting chance against the sitting mayor),” said Abby.

The lawmaker filed her COC for mayor on October 15, but she said her brother, suspended Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr, and her father only told her about UNA’s decision to field her for the mayoral seat just the night before.

“I did not decide to run. It was a party decision, it was a family decision, considering all the legal issues that my brother would have to face if he files his candidacy. So it was a last minute decision,” said Abby.

She was referring to the dismissal order slapped by the Ombudsman on her brother, suspended Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, just days before the start of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs).

Junjun was expected to run for re-election, but the Ombudsman also ordered his perpetual disqualification from holding public office.  

Plans

According to Abby, she plans to be “hands-on” if voted as the next local chief executive of Makati.

“I’m a hands-on person so it will be a very tight ship. Other than that, I’m also a mother kaya marami akong naiisip na projects specifically to address concerns [of] mothers, single moms, single parents. In fact, naiisip ko na nga na gumawa ng daycare for city hall employees para they can bring their kids there.”

(I’m a hands-on person so it will be a very tight ship. Other than that, I’m also a mother that’s why I have several projects in mind that will specifically address concerns of mothers, single moms, single parents. In fact, I plan to create daycare center for city hall employees so they can bring their kids there.)

Abby said she will also implement programs that would benefit persons and kids with disabilities because special education is one of her personal advocacies.

Extended dynasty?

Abby’s husband, businessman Luis Campos, is running for the position Abby will be leaving in 2016. This has drawn criticism that the Binay family wants to secure its political dynasty in the city.

Abby denied this was the intention behind Campos’ decision to run. “To begin with, he was really the one who’s supposed to run. I’m really an accidental candidate. He was supposed to run as early as 2013.  I wasn’t planning to run anymore on my third term,” she said.

“If given the chance, I wouldn’t [run for office anymore],” she added.

Abby also defended the qualifications of Campos, a political neophyte, to seek public office.

“He has helped me a lot in the district. In fact, siya na 'yung bumaba e. ‘Di na ko bumaba sa distrito magmula nung 2013 [because] I was really planning to retire already,” Abby said.

(He has helped me a lot in the district. In fact, he’s the one who visits the residents already. I haven't done that anymore since 2013 because I was really planning to retire already.)

“At the end of the day, it will be the people who will decide. Again on the issue of dynasty, regardless of my relation – regardless whether he is my friend, my enemy, my husband, my wife, my brother, my sister – at the end of the day, the people would vote based on his merit, based on his capacity, based on his capability,” she added.

Return of sister cities program

Should she be elected as mayor, Abby said she plans to bring back Makati’s sister cities program.

Peña suspended the said program when he became acting mayor because of the corruption allegations hounding some of the city projects implemented under the Binay administration. The acting mayor also said that it would be better to spend the city's resources on its own residents.

“I will bring it back. You share the wealth. Bakit mo ipagkakait ‘yung puwede mong itulong? Kasi tatandaan mo, marami tayong kamag-anak sa probinsya (Why deny others the help you could have offered them? Remember, some relatives of Makati residents live in other provinces). Instead of them going to Makati to avail the services, why not spread the benefits that you can give to the other cities?” Abby said.

In the said program, the host city and its sister city are able to facilitate an exchange of information and technology involving urban planning policies and development, socio-cultural activities, income generation strategy and fiscal management, health care, public education, among others.

This means that residents of Makati’s sister cities, depending on the contract, used to have the chance to avail of the services being offered by the Makati city government, and vice versa.

'Fault-finding'

“Well, she is entitled to [do] that,” said Peña in a text message sent to Rappler when asked about Abby’s plan to continue the sister cities program.

But for me, Makati first and there is nothing more to explain. Unahin po muna [ang] taga-Makati dahil sa aming pagiikot, madami pa din ang ‘di na-a-address [tulad ng] employment, peace and order, hospitalization, etc,” he added.

(But for me, Makati first and there is nothing more to explain. We will make sure that Makati residents are the priority because when I was going around the city I noticed that certain problems in employment, peace and order, hospitalization, etc have not been addressed yet.)

Abby also questioned Peña’s promise to increase the cash benefits received by Makati senior citizens from P3,000 ($64) to P10,000 ($213.67) annually if he wins as mayor.

Madali sa isang pulitikong mangako na dodoblehin ko 'yung benepisyo. The question is, where is he going to get the money? If he realigns the money to fund for that project, what will suffer? Ang magsusuffer 'yung education, ang magsusuffer 'yung health services kasi you only have a pie. Unless he plans to increase his tax revenues, his tax collection to be able to fund that,” said Abby.

(It’s easy for a politician to promise that he or she will double the residents’ benefits. The question is, where is he going to get the money? If he realigns the money to fund for that project, what will suffer? The sectors that would suffer might be education or health services, because you only have a pie. Unless he plans to increase his tax revenues, his tax collection to be able to fund that.)

According to her, if she wins as mayor, she will also review the programs that Peña implemented as acting mayor just to double check if these projects were truly aboveboard, as he said. (READ: Still ‘overpriced’? Makati acting mayor faces graft complaint over cakes)

Asked how he plans to increase the cash benefits for the Makati elderly, Peña said: “Meron [na tayong konkretong plano] pero I'd leave it at that. Pabayaan ko sila mag-assume. After all, nagiingat naman tayo nang husto. Bahala na mga fault finder mahilo kakahanap ng mali.”

(There is a concrete plan on how to implement it but I'd leave it at that. I will leave alone those who want to assume. After all, we are being very careful. I'd let the fault finders get dizzy just trying to find something wrong with my programs). – Rappler.com

$1 = P46.8

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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