(Updated on May 2 at 9:03 p.m.) The scuffle between Makati mayoral aspirants and siblings Abby and Junjun Binay inside a church last weekend shows how the family has pushed boundaries to secure their bailiwick for the past three decades.
The siblings appeared at an electoral forum organized by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting at San Ildefonso Parish on April 27, Saturday.
The forum was supposed to feature a debate among the city’s aspirants for the highest post of local governance.
Supporters of the Binay family had reportedly hoped that having incumbent Makati City Mayor Abby Binay sit with former Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay would be the start of a reconciliation between the two.
Abby in a speech called on electoral candidates to stop spreading lies during campaign season.
“Sa natitirang panahon sa ngayon sa kampanya, tigilan na ang pagkakalat ng kasinungalingan, tigilan na ang pagkakalat. Tigilan ang pagyuyurak sa aking pagkatao at sa aking asawa. Hindi kayo mananalo nang ganyan,” she said.
Abby sat down and then talked to Junjun in an irked manner.
A few moments later, both of them raised their voices and then Junjun knelt in front of her in a seemingly mocking way.
Makati Police chief Pablo Simon approached them in an attempt to dissipate the tension. He was soon followed by the patriarch, former Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Senator Nancy Binay, another one of Jejomar’s children, said the scuffle had its roots in Abby’s husband, Makati Rep. Luis Campos.
He is being accused by Junjun of being involved in the city’s illegal narcotics trade.
Sen. Nancy confirmed that they have long been wary of Campos ever since he started dating Abby.
“That started the rift because I’ve been hearing not so nice things about him when they were dating. As a sister, I want the best for my sisters, I’m the eldest. I think minasama niya iyun,” she explained.
Abby and Junjun Binay are running for the position of Makati mayor while their father is eyeing a congressional seat in the city’s first district.
How Makati became a ‘Binay Country’
The Binays’ stronghold of Makati began when Jejomar was appointed as officer-in-charge of the city following the EDSA Revolution in 1986.
He won as mayor in the 1988 elections and has since occupied the post, alternating between his wife Elenita Binay and his son, Junjun.
Political science professor Cleo Calimbahin of De La Salle University observed that Jejomar actively responded to the “needs of the poor in Makati,” which in turn built his career and reputation.
The patriarch extended social services to the city’s elderly and the impoverished by granting them free hospitalization and education.
He also enabled senior citizens to receive allowances from the local government.
Jejomar also attended several wakes to make his presence known, even if he had just arrived from a trip abroad.
When he aimed for a national position in government in 2010, more Binays appeared in public office — Nancy as senator, Abby as congresswoman and Junjun as mayor.
The Binays campaigned using simple taglines and only referred to themselves as “Team Binay.”
Their jingle repeated the refrain “only Binay” while their prominent posters showed them with Jejomar, the longest family member in politics.
When corruption allegations began to hound their circle, the Binays worked doubly hard to secure their bailiwick, despite clear evidence from anti-graft bodies.
There were also reports that the family hugely benefitted from commissions and kickbacks of procurement contracts since they highly favored companies owned by their close friend and allies.
Former Makati Mayor Ernesto Mercardo testified at a Senate hearing on September 2014 that Jejomar had always received a 13 percent kickback from every government contract.
“The crescendo of corruption cases presented through the media for public and official investigations led institutions to file formal charges. This led to a Binay decline in 2016,” Calimbahin wrote in a book chapter to be published by NUS Press by midyear.
Just recently, former Makati Mayor Renato Bondal accused Junjun over a “almost P2 billion” project involving the unfinished Ospital ng Makati 2 (OsMak 2).
Calimbahin reports that the Binay brand for Makati’s constituents has two faces—a legacy of service and a culture of kickbacks.
“A slogan of the Binay family that brags about the public and social services they are able to extend to their constituents, ‘ganito kami sa Makati’ (this is how we are in Makati), had a dual meaning for many even before Mercado’s testimony. One meaning is, ‘this is how we are in Makati’: we give (bribes). The second is, ‘this is how we do things in Makati’: we take (bribes),” Calimbahin wrote.
Despite corruption allegations in 2016, the Binays continued to try to secure Makati, especially since Jejomar failed to win a position at the national level in the 2016 presidential elections.
Besides Abby and Junjun Binay, running for the city’s mayor in the upcoming elections are independent candidates Carmelle Alanzalon, a marketer, and Renato Bondal, a lawyer who used to be allied with the Binay until he blew the whistle on their questionable projects.
Wilfredo Talag of ruling party PDP-Laban and Bigkis Pinoy’s Ricardo Yabut are also vying for the mayoral seat. — Artwork by Interaksyon/Uela Altar-Badayos
Editor’s Note: The latest update expands the portion under the subhead “How Makati became a ‘Binay Country.”