Wednesday, February 10, 2016

WHY I WILL NOT VOTE FOR JOJO BINAY


By Nathaniel von Einsiedel 

The recent columns of Randy David and Sara Soliven de Guzman in the major dailies give us a pretty good picture of what a Binay presidency would be like -- it will be a disaster. The problem, however, is that the average Filipino does not read or understand their analytical writings. Anyway, I agree with them a hundred percent, not just because I believe in their analysis, but because I had worked directly with Binay in the past and, therefore, have personal knowledge of how he thinks and does things. And it is based on this that I will not vote for him come 2016 

I have known Jojo Binay personally since we were in college at UP Diliman. He was a fraternity brother of one of our neighbors in Area 1 where I grew up. He frequented our neighbor's house and that's how we got to know each other. After college, it was already in 1986 when I saw Binay again, when he was appointed by then President Cory Aquino as acting mayor of Makati and later on as Governor of Metro Manila in a concurrent capacity. Because of my job at the Metro Manila Commission, I got to meet with Binay on a regular basis, often assisting him in his meetings with the Metro Manila mayors and senior officials of national agencies. On many occasions, I had to join him on early morning site inspections and even late evening meetings. 

My working relations with Binay took a break when I resigned from government accepted the invitation of the United Nations and worked abroad from 1990 to 2004. When I returned home, we revived our relationship. From 2004 up to a few years ago, my consulting firm, CONCEP, was engaged by Makati City for a number of projects, such as the Makati Pabahay Project, Makati Development Agenda for the 21st Century, the Jupiter Street Urban Renewal Plan, the MACDA Housing Project, the Barangay Rizal Disaster Oriented Urban Redevelopment, and the Makati Poblacion Heritage Conservation Program. In the course of working on these projects, I had to confer with Binay frequently and thus developed a deeper insight on how he thinks and operates as a public official. 

It is based on this that I've become convinced that Binay is not the kind of president I would vote for president in 2016. My reasons are as follows: 

1. He will befriend you if you can help him achieve his personal objectives, and will not hesitate to dump you when you're no longer useful to him. He is a master of charming people whom he can use to further his personal ambitions. But once they're of no use to him, or don't like to work with him anymore, he will readily get rid of them and fabricate a story on the reasons why. 

2. He is a congenital liar. He has perfected the practice of looking ​ at ​you straight in the eye and lie without blinking an eyelash. His political ads project a lie. By claiming that he will do to the country what he did in Makati, he creates an expectation that is intended to mislead people. Common public perception of Makati is that of a first world city -- high rise offices and condos, glitzy malls, beautiful parks and myriad jobs. But that is Ayala's Makati, covering only 6 of the city's total of 33 barangays. He makes people believe that he can transform the whole country into Ayala Makati's likeness. He knows that is not true. He had no hand in Ayala Makati's development, and he knows he cannot replicate this anywhere. 

3. He wants to perpetuate people's dependency on him, especially the poor. He doesn't believe in genuine development that uplifts the living and working conditions of the poor. This is reflected in Makati's dole-out approach to urban management, for example, its education and health programs. His political ads project the message that this dole-out system can be replicated throughout the country. He knows that the only reason he can do that in Makati is because the city has the biggest revenue among LGUs, all due to the thousands of the biggest firms located in the Ayala part of the city. 

4. He wants complete control over all programs and projects. The programs and projects of Makati city's departments have to be approved by him directly. Thus, in Makati's annual budget, most if not all programs and projects are listed under the Office of the Mayor, and only he can authorize budget releases. Binay also established a system that consolidates the incomes of all of Makati's barangays and directly controls the approval of and budget releases for all barangay projects. But look at the majority of the barangays -- from Kasilawan, Tejeros, Sta. Cruz, Singkamas, Bangkal, Guadalupe Viejo, Pitogo, Pinagkaisahan, Guadalupe Nuevo, all the EMBO barangays, and even his own San Antonio. There is so much poverty in these areas that no amount of dole outs throughout his as well as his wife and son's terms of office have been able to diminish much less eradicate poverty. The incidence of poverty in the premier and richest city in the country is appalling.

5. His pro-poor actions are all for show. He actually loathes the poor. On a number of occasions when we were discussing in private the housing projects for the poor, he used the term "salaula" (Tagalog for "uncouth" or "uncivilized") to describe them. He has perfected the act of conveying his "concern" for the poor by, for example, setting aside time and a percentage of the city's budget for the poor's "KBL" -- kasal (weddings), burol (wakes), and libing (burial). When we were planning the MACDA housing project, h​is approach to the issue of relocating the informal settlers was to pay them off without caring where they were to be resettled as long as they vacated the site.
6. When we proposed a massive workforce development program to include the poor in the productive milieu and benefit from the jobs available in the city, Binay turned it down, criticising it as "small-time." But he did not offer any alternative. It was obvious that he did not want the poor to improve their economic well-being and status. He wants them to be perpetually beholden to and dependent on him, and therefore, under his complete control. 

7. His management style is 101% patronage politics. There is absolutely nothing developmental in his system of management. He may have introduced some innovations, but these have been mainly for his and his family's benefit rather than for the good of the people. He criticizes the Aquino administration as being inept, lazy, and slow. But what has he done, as Chairman of the Housing & Urban Development Coordinating Council for the past 5 years, to reduce the housing backlog? What has he done in the barangays of Makati to address poverty? Are the living and working conditions in the poorer barangays any better than before he first became mayor? 

When my team and I started consultancy projects in Makati in 2004, its incidence of poverty was higher than the national average. Binay was not alarmed by this and, in fact, seemed to be pleased with it. Perhaps because it meant he could easily manipulate the poor. Today, after almost three decades under the Binays, Makati's overall quality of life, especially in the 27 poorer barangays, isn't much better. 


Is this the kind of person who will be our next president? I certainly don't think so...

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