MANILA – Senator-elect Nancy Binay, who had shunned debates during the 90-day election campaign, on Monday answered various allegations of wrongdoing by the Binays in their 27-year governance of Makati City.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart with Karen Davila, she addressed issues about being the lone supplier of cakes to the city government, as well as ownership by the Binays of condominium units in many buildings in Makati.
Binay said her family is already used to accusations that they are corrupt.
Binay denied that she owns the company that supplies cakes to the Makati City government, which are given to Makati's senior citizens.
"No. I don't supply that (cakes). First of all, I don't bake. It's my husband who is in charge in the kitchen. It's not my company," she said.
"Why would I do that? I am barred from doing that. My father (Vice President Jejomar Binay) used to be the mayor, my brother (Jejomar "Junjun" Binay, Jr.) is the mayor. Why would we do that?" she added.
According to a city council resolution uploaded on the Makati City website, Binay's brother, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay, is authorized to negotiate and sign contracts for the supply of birthday cakes for senior citizens.
A Philippine Information Agency report said Makati is spending P19.3 million for free cakes on birthdays and golden wedding anniversaries of the city's senior citizens.
Binay also denied another accusation that her family owns at least one unit in all buildings in Makati City.
"It's not true. If it's true, why do I still live in my father's house with my kids and with my sisters who also have a family? If that's true, I would have moved out long time ago," she said, adding that she is building a house just beside her parents' house.
She also again replied to criticism that her family is building a "political dynasty," saying the term is actually a misnomer.
"At the end of the day, it's still my last name - the kind of service that my family gives, right?" she said.
"It’s the decision of your constituents... I think after winning this battle that means they still want another Binay in government… And when you say dynasty, that is a birthright, and we subject ourselves to an election. So I think 'dynasty' is the wrong word."
No to debates
Binay placed fifth in the senatorial race after garnering over 16 million votes. She was one of only three United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial bets who made it to the top 12. The other two are Joseph Victor "JV" Ejercito Estrada and Gringo Honasan.
Binay said her victory is starting to sink in despite her initial reluctance in joining the Senate race. Asked if her victory was her destiny, she said: “I think so. Sabi ko nga, I tried running away from this calling but at the end of the day, hahabul-habulin ka rin pala.”
She also said she made the right decision in focusing on her ground campaign instead of joining the pre-election debates before the May 13 polls.
"I was the last one who filed my candidacy. I was a last-minute replacement to Joey de Venecia. My campaign team decided that my priority would be the campaign sorties. If it conflicts with a debate or a TV guesting, my priority is to attend the campaign sortie," Binay said.
“Sa akin kasi, nagwork yung ganung strategy. Talagang face-to-face contact with the constituents,” she added.
Binay said she did not expect to place so high in the senatorial race especially with all the criticism she got from various sectors. “I didn’t expect, ranking-wise, that I would get top 5 because I think among all the candidates ako yata yung pinaka na-black propaganda among the senatoriables (sic),” she said.
She said that while she has learned to let go and forgive the criticism against her, she was offended when some satirical articles started poking fun at her own kids.
"If you will think too much of it, you will just feel bad," she said.
A lot to learn
Binay admitted that she has a lot to learn as a neophyte senator, and she will make up for this by signing up for a short course on lawmaking at the UP.
She also denied that she has zero experience in politics after serving as personal assistant to her father and mother.
“Ang hirap kasi sa akin hindi nila alam yung trabaho ko is behind the scenes. So in terms of experience sa public service. This is nothing new to me… I've been doing this for more than twenty years. That is experience enough. They don't know what I have done behind the scenes," she said.
From her father, Binay said she learned that government projects must be felt by the constituents and that progress should be inclusive.
Binay said laws protecting the women and children will be her top priority during her stint in the Upper Chamber.
Among the first laws she plans to file is the creation of more day care centers even in government installations and private institutions; and the expansion of the country's immunization program.
Binay added that being a UP tourism graduate, she will also push for laws that will further strengthen the country's tourism industry.
She will also call for a review of the Aquino government's conditional cash transfer (CCT) program and address classroom shortage.
“I think I will call for a review of the CCT program. Unang-una, I don’t know if long term wise nakakatulong talaga siya e. I think it should be reviewed. It shouldn't run forever. There has to be a time limit and we must see now if the CCT beneficiaries are improving themselves,” she said.