VP Binay's 'doktora' is a veteran politician's wife

Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News

VP Binay (R ) and Mrs. Elenita Binay at the United Nationalist Allance meeting on July 1, 2015. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
PROFILES: The next First Lady or First Gentleman

Regardless of who wins among the 5 presidential candidates, Malacanang is going to welcome a much bigger First Family as bachelor President Benigno Simeon Aquino III bows out of office on June 30, 2016.

The Philippines will either have another First Gentleman if Senator Grace Poe or Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago wins, a First Lady if Vice President Jojo Binay or former DILG chief Mar Roxas makes it, or a daughter as First Lady if Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte succeeds.

What role the next First Lady or First Gentleman will play and how well (or bad) he or she performs will impact on the Philippine presidency. Will he or she be like an Imelda Marcos, a Ming Ramos, a Loi Ejercito, a Mike Arroyo, or the Aquino sisters?

News.abs-cbn.com takes a look at the women and men who may soon be moving into the Palace as First Lady or First Gentleman.

----

Mrs. Elenita Binay was in the front row when Vice President Jejomar Binay angrily severed ties with the Aquino government last year, playing the support role she has known so well after over four decades.

The soft-spoken medical doctor appears the most prepared to take on the role of first spouse, having acted as first lady of Makati for many years, even serving as mayor for one term. She has also held court at the Coconut Palace, the vice president's official residence for six years.

Politics is so dirty. Ako naman, wala naman kaming masamang ginagawa sa kapwa namin. - Mrs. Elenita Binay

And Mrs. Binay knows how to take a bullet for her husband, standing as co-accused in one of many corruption charges that have piled up as the campaign for the May 9 elections heated up.

"Politics is so dirty. Ako naman, wala naman kaming masamang ginagawa sa kapwa namin," she told ABS-CBN News.

But the family has learned to roll with the punches and has made politics a clan affair, said the couple's eldest daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay.

"This campaign has become our family bonding," Sen. Binay told ABS-CBN News on the sidelines of the final presidential debate last April 24.

“Nothing I've ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.” - Bill Cosby

Happy Father's day! June 15, 2014. Jojo Binay’s Facebook page

The senator's teenage son and daughter accompanied their mother and grandfather on an inspection of the debate venue, snapping pictures of equipment with their smartphones.

"We've been bombarded with criticism for two years already. We'd rather focus on telling the people what we will do rather than dwell on the criticisms," the senator said.

SHADES OF IMELDA

Mrs. Binay is out on bail while an anti-graft court hears a P45-million malversation charge against her over the purchase of equipment for the Ospital ng Makati when she was mayor from 1998 to 2001.

The family's estranged ally, ex-Makati vice mayor Ernesto Mercado, tried to portray her as an extravagant first lady that brought to mind the excesses of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' wife, Imelda.

Mercado told a Senate investigation in late 2014 that the Binays owned a sprawling 350-hectare ranch in Batangas province that's six times larger than Rizal Park in Manila or 10 times bigger that the Araneta Center in Quezon City.

The estate has, among others, an air-conditioned piggery, a fighting cock farm, an imported orchid farm, a maze garden, a heart-shaped lagoon, a 40-car garage and two mansions.

The Binays claimed businessman Antonio Tiu was the owner of the estate, and dismissed Mercado's charge as politically-motivated.

MOTHER'S LOVE

But beneath Mrs. Binay's prim and proper exterior is a protective mother, whose children have been on the receiving end of some of the attacks directed against their father.

In a 2013 interview with The Philippine Star, Mrs. Binay was teary-eyed as she rued how eldest daughter Nancy was ridiculed for her dark skin when she ran for the Senate.

"Why do people do that? Why do they want to pull her down?" she said.

She also recalled how her only son, former Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin, took time off from work to nurse her back to health after she underwent surgery in the United States.

"Sinusubuan niya ako... Every 30 minutes, he would patiently accompany me to go to the bathroom as I took slow, difficult steps," she said.

"Imagine , it was my only boy who took care of me," she said.

FIRST LADY

What will Mrs. Binay be like as First Lady?

Writing in the Philippine Star, columnist Wilson Lee Flores, said she could be like Dr. Loi Ejercito, wife of former President Joseph Estrada.


"Both Elenita and Loi are coincidentally medical doctors; both possess the patience as well as the political and social skills needed to help their husbands," Flores, a veteran political, business, and lifestyle observer, said.

"If Jojo Binay wins as president, I foresee Dr. Elenita Binay immersing herself more into socio-civic, medical and cultural endeavors rather than into active politics or diplomacy."

And, she'll likely be busy trying to help her husband do to the whole country what they've done for Makati.