Binay in Bukidnon draws applause, flak

He related his city’s success story, his personal struggles and victories, and his opinion on the national scene in an hour-long meeting at the Malaybalay City People’s Hall.  

The president of the United Opposition put a message across that this martial law activist, lawyer, opposition leader, and “successful” Makati mayor, is among the “presidentiables” for 2010 and is “Handa para sa bansa” (ready for the nation).

A Makati City councilor who introduced the mayor in the program described Binay as “most fit as chief executive” for his success in Makati.

A “comics” presentation of Binay’s biography distributed in the meeting showed that Makati’s income rose from P280 million in 1985 to P10.6 billion last year under his administration.

He cited his achievements and the city’s feats in computerization and benefits to senior citizens, and other areas. He said they have a P112 million budget for senior citizen benefits in Makati.

Binay invited city officials and barangay captains to a “free board and lodging” tour to Makati to see their achievements which could be replicated locally. 

Malaybalay City started its computerization program last year and has offered benefits to senior citizens similar to those started in Makati. 

Binay has registered his stand against automation of the 2010 elections, saying “programmed results” might prevail over actual votes.

He criticized the Commission on Election’s ineptitude in preventing cheating when he explained how Makati’s computerization has prevented “dagdag bawas” (padding-shaving) in taxation.

Binay hit corruption in government when he told barangay captains it is one reason why the government cannot afford to pay premium for their coverage to the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS).

“It is a question of priority, character, and leadership,” he said. 

He cited a proposed bill to make internal revenue allotment higher for low income local governments and decrease those who already have high incomes. 

He offered scholarships for students from Malaybalay in the Pamantasan ng Makati and admission at the Ospital ng Makati, both owned by the city government. 

Binay’s offers and his light humor drew applause from the audience.

But the score came almost three hours late — some officials had left the hall long before he arrived, drawing flak for the aspiring president who has trailed early surveys. 

Binay explained he was stalled by the press conference in Valencia City.

He was scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Mayor Florencio T. Flores Jr. at 4:30 p.m. but was moved to 5:30 p.m. His party arrived at the City People’s Hall at 7:19 p.m. 

The courtesy call actually included an audience with the city councilors, the barangay captains of poblacion barangays and the top three kagawads in the said barangays. 

Not all councilors were present, many of those who arrived around 4 p.m. later left before Binay could arrive.

Binay apologized twice in his 22-minute speech about making the audience wait for him.

Flores assured his fellow mayor he was welcome and appreciated the precious time he spent to come to the City of Malaybalay in “fellowship and to bring good tidings”. 

Binay’s handlers said he was in town to sign sisterhood agreements with the municipality of Kalilangan and the City of Valencia. In his speech, he offered a sisterhood agreement with Malaybalay City.

The letter requesting the courtesy call said Binay is in town as guest speaker of the reunion of his fraternity, the Alpha Phi Omega (APO). Binay tagged along some Makati City councilors in his Bukidnon sortie. 

Tarpaulins bearing Binay’s picture and campaign slogan were posted in many parts of Malaybalay and Valencia. The posters said it was put up by the “Binay for President Movement”. 

Businessman Joey de Venecia III, who was with Binay’s party, talked about the harassments he suffered since he faced the Senate hearings over the ZTE-NBN controversy. 

De Venecia, son of the ousted House speaker, called for change in 2010 and at one point spelled Binay’s family name for residents to remember. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)