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Binay laughs off claims his political career’s over

CALISTHENICS WITH THE MARINES Vice President Jejomar Binay joins members of the Philippine Navy in their morning exercise at the naval station in Taguig City. Binay, who celebrated his 72nd birthday on Tuesday, later engages the Marines in a boodle fight, a Marine dining tradition. JOAN BONDOC

CALISTHENICS WITH THE MARINES Vice President Jejomar Binay joins members of the Philippine Navy in their morning exercise at the naval station in Taguig City. Binay, who celebrated his 72nd birthday on Tuesday, later engages the Marines in a boodle fight, a Marine dining tradition. JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines–Beleaguered Vice President Jejomar Binay turned 72 on Tuesday, laughing off claims that his political career was over.

“Napakalaki ng lamang ko. Never in the history na may ganun, hindi naman ganun kaagad ang lamang” (I keep a wide lead in surveys. Never in history that someone is leading the race by a wide margin),” Binay told reporters after he joined the boodle fight of members of the Philippine Navy at the Bonifacio Naval Station.

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He spent the morning with an hour of brisk walking and a boodle fight with members of the Philippine Navy in Taguig City.

Appearing bullish on his birthday despite a barrage of corruption allegations, the Vice President expressed confidence that the attacks against him would eventually wane and reach their saturation point.

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Fairy tales

Binay said his rivals were “resorting to fairy tales” in an attempt to destroy him.

But he acknowledged that the recent corruption allegations were the worst attacks against him since his entry into politics as the acting mayor of Makati in 1986.

“This is a nationwide and well-oiled campaign against me. Every negative comment by the media is paid. (My detractors) have money to use,” he said.

“Even at my lowest, I am still in the lead,” he said, referring to results of the Social Weather Stations survey in September when his net satisfaction rating plunged.

It dropped 15 points from 67 in June to 52 in September, an effect of the Senate investigation of the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.

But the same survey also showed that 70 percent of the respondents were satisfied with his performance, the highest among top government officials.

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Record-holder

“In my performance as the Vice President, I am the only one with that record of consistently getting the No. 1 spot,” he said.

The results of the Pulse Asia Survey conducted from Sept. 8 to 15 also indicated that Binay remained the front-runner in the 2016 presidential race, even if his rating dropped 10 points from 41 percent in June to 31 percent.

Binay, however, said the Pulse Asia Survey included “too many candidates,” resulting in the potential candidates getting lower marks.

The Vice President got another boost when Novo Trends PH, a new research agency led by political analyst Ramon Casiple, released results of a survey conducted solely in Metro Manila at the height of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing.

In the survey, Binay got 29.3 percent of the votes of the 1,600 respondents.

“See for yourself, get out of Manila,” Binay said in the interview with reporters, claiming that he still had the support of the majority in the provinces.

“(My detractors) are expecting that the points I’d lose would go to them. But unfortunately, that is not happening,” Binay said.

Mood soured

Binay’s mood during the interview was combative and upbeat, but it went sour when a reporter asked about his daughter Joanna Marie Bianca Binay who was dragged into the controversy after Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano showed her posts on Instagram as proof of Binay’s ownership of a 350-hectare estate in Rosario, Batangas province.

“Today is my birthday, don’t make it bad,” he told the reporter.

“I hope Mr. Cayetano will have a child soon so he’d know how painful this is for a parent,” Binay said.

Wearing the running attire of members of the Navy, Binay, a reserve Navy colonel, claimed taking 11,000 steps around the camp grounds as he joined them in their routine walk and calisthenics for an hour starting at 7 a.m.

Cake

Afterward, a birthday cake greeted him at the gymnasium packed and brimming with Navy soldiers. His son, Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay, and daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, accompanied him at the gymnasium.

At the boodle fight at the auditorium, he partook of traditional Filipino fare of rice, adobo, pancit, eggplant, okra, tomatoes and shrimp paste.

Before he left the Navy headquarters, he led the feeding program and giving of school bags to pupils of the Philippine Navy Wives Association Child Learning Center in Fort Bonifacio.

Morale boosted

Lt. Jerbert Belonio, spokesman of the Marines, said Binay boosted the morale of the troops with his presence.

The Vice President gave a short message praising the Marines and recalled how proud he was to be part of the elite fighting group even as a reservist.

Binay also belatedly greeted the Marines on their anniversary on Nov. 7.

Promise

Belonio said that since becoming Vice President, Binay had made it a promise to spend his birthdays with the different branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Binay spent his two previous birthdays with the officers and men of the Philippine Army and the Philippine Air Force.

Belonio said the Marines were aware of the political problems confronting the Vice President but stressed there were no political undertones having Binay on his birthday.

“From our point of view, we still remain an apolitical entity so there is no politics here. We don’t want to take sides,” he said.

He said there was no discussion on politics during the boodle fight until Binay left at 9:30 a.m.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy spokesman, said the Marines were delighted to see a relaxed Vice President in casual attire.

“His presence was a boost to the sailors and Marines who were conducting the calisthenics to ensure our physical fitness,” Arevalo said.

He echoed Belonio’s statement that there was nothing political in the Binay visit.

“In so far as the Navy is concerned, there is no political color here. We see him as a Marine reservist. It’s his birthday,” Arevalo said. “We welcome him because he is a Marine reservist. So, it’s his home ground so to speak.”

Arevalo said Binay’s visit was coordinated with the Marine headquarters by the chief of Binay’s security, Col. Ferdinand Frajinal, a Marine officer.

Originally posted: 6:28 PM | Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

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TAGS: Bonifacio Naval Station, boodle fight, Jejomar Binay, overpriced Makati City Hall Building II, Philippine Navy, Philippine Navy Wives Association Child Learning Center, Taguig City, Vice President Binay
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