A tale of 2 siblings: Binay vs Binay
MANILA, Philippines — The past days have been, in reelectionist Sen. Nancy Binay’s words, the “most difficult time” for her family which has practically been in charge of Makati City for over three decades.
With two of her younger siblings, incumbent Mayor Abby and Junjun Binay, locked in a fight for mayor of the country’s business capital, the rest of the family have had to take sides.
On Saturday, Junjun returned to the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue, Chino Roces Avenue and Vito Cruz Extension at the boundary of Barangays Sta. Cruz and San Antonio where a stage had been set up for his proclamation rally.
The Binays have traditionally held their biggest campaign rallies at the busy intersection, with family members present.
This time, however, Junjun only had his sisters, Nancy and An, the latter representing his father, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, raising his hands on the stage and introducing him as the “returning mayor of Makati.”
Junjun is running under the local political party, Una ang Makati.
The night before — the first day of the campaign period for local candidates — Abby held her own proclamation rally on Lawton Avenue.
She was joined by their father who called her “the next mayor of Makati.” Abby is the official candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance which the former vice president formed.
On stage and in media interviews, Abby and Junjun indirectly threw shade at each other.
“The weather’s hot. But it doesn’t look like it will be a hotly contested race,” Abby told reporters at her rally.
“I stand by my performance, so I don’t see it as a challenge. It’s up to the people to pick their basis for voting in the elections,” she said.
She pointed out that her brother was not her sole opponent as there were four others: political neophyte Ricky Yabut, lawyer and former Binay ally- turned-whistle-blower Renato Bondal, Wilfredo Talag and Carmelle Ainne Alanzalon.
“It’s not my name or my surname that matters but what I have done in the past three years I have been given an opportunity to help the people,” Abby said.
Sought for comment after his proclamation rally, Junjun told reporters that he respected his sister’s opinion but said: “We believe that people in Makati [support me and my party mates]. They will not be cowed by threats. What they want is peace.”
Binay brand of service
Junjun told the crowd that he would offer “honest public service that was the Binay brand, the honest-to-goodness Binay service in which we go to the people and we are the ones who truly serve them.”
Upon his return as “father of Makati,” he vowed to unite the people of the city whom he said were being divided by politics.
“No matter how big or how good your projects might be, if the people are divided under your leadership, if you have no time to listen to them, then these are all for nothing,” he said in an apparent jab at his sister’s “impersonal” style of leadership.
In October last year, 13 of the 18 city councilors, as well as 21 of the 33 barangay leaders, defected to Junjun’s camp, citing their dissatisfaction over Abby whom they accused of being indifferent to their concerns.
This led to divisions within the council, resulting in the delayed approval of the city’s 2019 budget.
In previous interviews, Abby admitted she and Junjun had different personalities. While he loved mingling with people, she preferred to remain in her office and focus on work.
She was particularly proud of the fact that the city was cited by the Commission on Audit after its 2017 financial statement raised no red flags — a first within a 12-year period.
It was also during her term that Makati developed into a “digital city,” with transactions made via Makatizen cards. Last year, construction of the Makati subway started, which she hoped would decongest traffic in the financial district as well as provide jobs for the residents.
According to Abby, her feud with her brother and the division in her family could have been prevented if her brother had not insisted on entering the mayoral race.
Very, very avoidable split
“It is something very, very avoidable but he chose to run against me,” she said. “I’ve always said that after the elections, even if I win or lose, we will still have not patched things up in my family. This will not end with the elections.”
Junjun said he was aware that Abby was not open to a reconciliation anytime soon. “I think she’s being driven by vengeance. This fight is for the people of Makati. It’s not about vengeance,” he added without elaborating.
But he added that he was open to making amends. “I’m known for having a big heart. If possible, I would choose to patch things up in our family.”
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