Binay prefers college forum to facing Senate
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna—Despite having been grilled in a forum at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Vice President Jejomar Binay would still rather speak in college fora than face the long-running Senate investigation into the allegedly overpriced Makati building.
“Ang problema dun (in the Senate) ‘yung demeanor, at least dito hindi bastusan (The problem there is demeanor, at least here, its not a set-up),” Binay said in an interview after a three-hour forum on governance and transparency held here on Tuesday.
Binay, who has long announced his plan to run for president in 2016, was the first to speak in a series of fora organized by the UPLB Department of Social Sciences. The university has also invited Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas on Oct. 16 and independent aspirant Sen. Grace Poe on Nov. 6 to talk about the same topic.
In August, Binay also chose university students for an audience when he delivered his “true” State of the Nation Address at the Cavite State University in Indang, Cavite.
In Los Baños, the Vice President spent the first hour enumerating his political achievements. He highlighted the programs he pursued when he was mayor of Makati City, among them the increase in the city’s annual revenue of P240 million in 1986 to P11 billion by 2010 and the provision of health insurances to 85 percent of Makati’s population.
Binay then took the chance to defend his non-attendance at the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearing, calling all the corruption allegations against him and his family “all lies and accusations.”
Last year, he also backed out of a supposed debate, organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, with Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
On allegations of corruption, Binay said: “I was never suspended…much more convicted for a single centavo.”
Despite attempts by forum organizers to cut short the program due to time constraints, Binay gamely accommodated questions turning the event into a no-holds barred question-and-answer session.
Students raised topics from political dynasties and education to Binay’s performance in the cabinet or the source of his funds for political advertisements.
At one point, the Vice President seemed piqued when a student raised the issue on Makati’s illegal settlers and the ill conditions of a relocation site in Calauan, Laguna.
In an interview after the student forum, Binay said he was initially advised to accommodate only five questions but told the organizers that he was willing to answer as many as possible.
“I have always taken the position that if possible, there should always be an open forum,” Binay said. “It’s only through an open forum that people can ask you questions and you can answer them directly.”
Binay received a mixed reaction from the crowd. “At least (the forum) gave him a chance to air his side on the issues,” said first year Sociology student Meara Sapla.
This, however, “was not enough” to convince Agriculture student Allyza Balbino to vote for Binay next year.
When told that some students said they were not satisfied, Binay said, “subjective na ‘yan. Siguro meron naman ding nasiyahan (Well, that’s a subjective thing. Possibly others were satisfied).”
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