Binay leads UNA launch, bares platform of gov’t

Posted on July 02, 2015

NASAAN ang gobyerno?” [Where is the government?]

Thus spoke Vice-President Jejomar C. Binay of the administration he had served for five years, when he led yesterday’s launching of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) at his political base, Makati City.

Mr. Binay’s speech at the jam-packed Makati Coliseum effectively marked the first political campaign speech among the possible presidential aspirants in next year’s general elections. Among the widely anticipated front-runners in the 2016 presidential race, only Mr. Binay so far has been categorical about running for president.

Mr. Binay also took this occasion to bare his program of government, which he classified according to three pillars -- “social inclusion/improvement of basic services,” “economic dynamism,” and “effective and caring governance.”

Ipatutupad natin sa buong bansa ang ibayong serbisyong panlipunan na nagawa na sa Makati. Sa gayon, maraming Pilipino ang maiaahon sa kahirapan. Sila ay mabibigyan ng ginhawa (We will implement throughout the country the social services we have achieved in Makati, that many Filipinos can rise out of poverty and will be given relief),” he said.

Mr. Binay cited key industries where jobs can be generated -- agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, business process outsourcing and exports -- and also identified key concerns in the public spheres of education, health and the economy.

In explaining his platform, Mr. Binay also took the occasion to criticize the Aquino government -- singling out, in particular, the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system as an example of a failure of public service.

He presented the UNA as an alternative to the administration of President Benigno S.C. Aquino III.

Ang UNA ay hindi samahan ng mga palpak at manhid. Hindi ito samahan ng mga tamad, usad-pagong at teka-teka sa pagharap sa mga problema ng bayan. May sapat na karanasan at hindi bagitong mag-aaral pa lang sa pamamahala at pagsisilbi sa bayan (UNA is not an alliance of the incompetent and callous. It is not an alliance of the lazy, turtle-paced, and indecisive on the face of the nation’s problems. We have the experience, we’re no neophytes in governance and public service),” said Mr. Binay, who served in the Aquino Cabinet as presidential adviser, and also as chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council.

Mr. Binay, all told, was in fighting form, reminiscent of the early Mr. Binay as an activist and human rights lawyer during the Marcos dictatorship. It was during this chapter in modern Philippine history that he found common cause with politically suppressed families like the Aquinos.

In 1986, Mr. Binay was one of many anti-Marcos activists whom then President Corazon C. Aquino appointed to the local governments, as she reorganized the entire structure of government upon assuming power that year.

Mr. Binay’s appointment as officer-in-charge of Makati was followed by his election to the mayoralty the next year and in the succeeding elections. He has since consolidated his political influence in that city.

Mr. Binay formally cut ties with Mr. Aquino on Monday, although some officials identified with him are still in office.

Until that breakaway, Mr. Binay had continued to express hope that Mr. Aquino would endorse his presidential bid, despite Mr. Aquino’s allies in the Senate leading an investigation into Mr. Binay’s alleged anomalies.

On Tuesday, Mr. Binay’s son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin S. Binay, Jr. was suspended anew by the Ombudsman, in connection with alleged irregularities by the mayor.

The UNA also elected its officers in yesterday’s launching, with Navotas Rep. Tobias M. Tiangco now the official party president after serving as interim president; Senator Gregorio B. Honasan, vice-president; lawyer-activist Jose Virgilio L. Bautista, secretary-general; and former finance secretary Margarito B. Teves, treasurer.

Notably absent at yesterday’s launching was former Philippine president and now Manila Mayor Joseph E. Estrada, for whom Mr. Binay ran as vice-presidential candidate in 2010.

Mr. Estrada is a leading ally of Mr. Binay but is also the best friend of the late actor Fernando Poe, Jr., the father of presumptive presidential bet Senator Grace Poe. -- with Jauhn Etienne Villaruel and Elizabeth E. Escaño