A day after getting “roasted” by students in a forum at the Los Baños (Laguna) campus of the University of the Philippines, Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday said he enjoyed the engagement and admired the conviction of the participants.
“Nag-enjoy ako doon. Basta’t ako’y natutuwa dahil nagkaroon ng pagkakataong makabalik sa UPLB. UP na UP talaga ang environment. ‘Di naman hostile. Talagang normal yan sa UP [I enjoyed the event. I’m happy for having the opportunity to set foot again at UPLB. It really was a UP environment. The students were not hostile, that’s normal in UP],” the Vice President added.
Binay graduated from UP Diliman campus with Political Science and Law degrees.
He said he admires the conviction of the students and will remain open to hearing the sentiments of the public, his spokesman, Joey Salgado, said in a statement.
According to Salgado, the Vice President was able to answer all the questions thrown at him by the forum participants.
“[The Vice President] has always been open to questions from his audience. He has never shied away from direct questions. In fact, he answered all their questions,” he said.
Salgado added that the Vice President “respects” and “admires” the conviction of the students.
“Ang mahalaga ay malaya ang pagpapahayag at bukas ang isip sa paliwanag [What is important is that there is freedom of speech and there is openness for exchanges],” he said.
On Tuesday, Binay was grilled by students of UPLB during a no-holds barred forum called “Forum on Governance, Transparency and Social Transformation” where they pressed him about the informal settlers in Makati City, corruption and his criticism of the Aquino administration.
One student, agriculture major Lucky Patrick Lopez asked the former mayor of Makati City why there are still many informal settlers there.
Binay has always prided himself about the success of Makati City as a local government unit, often boasting of its progress as proof of his leadership and competence.
When the Vice President denied that there are informal settlers in the city, Lopez said he is from Mandaluyong City and is “neighbors” with the informal settlers from Makati.
Binay then admitted there are three to five percent informal settlers in Makati City, to which Lopez said, in Filipino “So you do have informal settlers. You said there was none.”
Binay’s credibility and high ratings have taken a beating from the year-long Senate blue ribbon sub-committee inquiry into allegations of corruption against him.
The Vice President was said to have received billions of kickbacks from overpriced buildings, rigged bidding process and ghost beneficiaries of the city’s senior citizen program.
During the forum, Binay sought to clear his name from the allegations by enumerating his projects as chief executive of Makati City for 21 years.
No faux pas
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Binay was able to maintain his composure and has not committed a social blunder in the UPLB forum but that he failed to provide students good answers.
“There was no faux pas, but his answers also have no weight,” Casiple noted, describing Binay’s responses to the question of students.
He particularly cited the Vice President’s answer to the question regarding the political dynasty issue wherein Binay claimed that dynasties do not cause poverty.
The political analyst said while dynasties are not the main cause of poverty, it has been a contributory factor why the poor remains poor.
Casiple explained dynasties are entrenched and they will not allow others outside their family to enter their area and territory.
To be able to stay in power, incumbent dynasties need to strengthen support by providing its constituents access to basic services.
Like in Makati, Casiple said, residents are provided education, health and other services but these are just small things given by the local government to make residents indebted to the current administration or dynasty.
But despite the access to services, there are still many poor families in Makati City because they still lack access to the source of wealth.
Casiple also noted that one of the ways to combat poverty is to provide people access to the source of wealth like jobs, land and even capital, and this is not being provided by political dynasties.
The Binay camp on Wednesday also traded barbs with Sen. Francis Escudero, saying the senator’s tolerance of the abuses of his colleagues is “unforgivable and opportunistic.”
“What is unforgivable is for a lawyer-turned-politician to skirt the abuses of an institution to discredit and disrespect the rights of individuals for political convenience and opportunism,” the Vice President’s political affairs spokesman Rico Quicho said as he reacted to Escudero’s statement that the former’s criticisms of the Senate were “appalling and unbecoming a lawyer.
Quicho earlier called Escudero’s attention for “turning a blind eye on the actions of his colleagues” conducting the Senate blue ribbon sub-committee hearings on the corruption allegations against the Binay family.
He said rather than chide Binay for pointing out the faults of the sub-committee, Escudero should instead lecture his colleagues about respect and civility.
“Perhaps, Senator Escudero must lecture his colleagues about respect and civility because shouting at resource persons and intimidating them is certainly unbecoming a senator and a public official,” Quicho added.