The Peña-Binay brouhaha
The storm is over. Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. now rules Makati City, while Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. is still waiting for his fate.
In a recent interview with The Manila Times, Makati Rep. Mar-Len Abigail Binay said her brother, Junjun, is dedicating his respite from public service to his fatherhood duties.
Apparently, his tedious work in City Hall and excruciating legal battles had taken quite a toll on his time for his children.
And to make it up to them, the 38-year-old widower is touring his four kids abroad.
“Okay naman siya. Abala siya sa mga anak niya. ’Yun ang focus niya ngayon, ’yung mga anak niya. Kasi napabayaan niya rin sila nu’ng naging mayor siya. Now, he has more time for his family [Junjun is okay. He is busy with his children. His focus is on his children because he lost his time with them when he was still the mayor. Now, he has more time with his family],” the congresswoman said.
Embattled, Junjun stepped down from office on July 1 in compliance with a preventive suspension order of the Office of the Ombudsman ostensibly to give authorities a free hand in investigating his involvement, along with 14 others, in alleged impropriety and financial anomalies attending the construction of the P1.3-billion, 10-story Makati Science High School building.
“Kahit labag sa aking kalooban, ako po ay pansamantalang lilisan sa ating City Hall [Although it is against my will, I am temporarily leaving our City Hall],” Junjun told his supporters who had spent two nights at the City Hall quadrangle to hold a vigil for him.
Junjun leaving his post did not come easily. He locked himself inside the mayor’s office for two days as clashes between his supporters, along with his father Vice President Jejomar Binay himself, and police were escalating.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales had to warn him that she “will not tolerate an open defiance of constitutional processes” if he continues to barricade himself inside City Hall.
The Ombudsman had already preventively suspended Junjun because of the alleged irregularities in the Makati City Hall Building 2 on March 11 but this was later stalled by the Court of Appeals through a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO).
The same tension actually erupted in March. Binay locked himself at the mayor’s office, while Peña started his duties as acting mayor at a makeshift office along the hallway of the old City Hall.
There was a time that there were even two separate flag ceremonies at City Hall, with some employees wearing black (Team Junjun) while others were in white (Team Kid).
Upon leaving, Binay said there might be a possibility that he might no longer reclaim his post.
True enough. The Ombudsman on October 9 ordered Junjun’s dismissal with perpetual disqualification from holding public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits.
Morales explained Junjun was dismissed for grave misconduct and dishonesty, as there were “irregularities in the services and contract for the construction in several phases of the parking building.”
Now, it’s Kid vs Abigail
In his State of the City Address (SOCA), coinciding with his filing of certificate of candidacy for mayor on October 12, Kid was in tears in recalling how difficult it was to be the lone opposition official in a city ruled by the family and allies of the Binay family.
He claimed he was bullied over political differences.
“Nakita ko kung paano sunugin ang aking mga T-shirt, kung paano pilasin ang aking mga tarpaulin kapag merong graduation. Minsan kahit nandoon na ako sa isang programa, hindi binabanggit ang aking pangalan [I saw how my T-shirts were burned, how my tarpaulins were ripped during graduation ceremonies. Sometimes when I attend an event, my name is not even mentioned],” the former vice mayor related.
“Ang haba ng panahon na pagtitiis ko. Dinanas ko lahat: Walang budget, walang tauhan, wala lahat. Puro volunteers lang ang meron ako [I endured many years of hardship. I experienced everything: I had no budget, no staff, only volunteers],” he said.
Abigail dismissed Kid’s claims.
She said, “No wonder why he is doing the same thing. Now he is harassing the Binay supporters. You know what, there’s a tendency that when you were bullied, you become a bully as well. So that’s exactly what he is doing now.”
On November 7, Abigail accused Kid of exacting revenge on her family by ordering the eviction of her field office at City Hall.
Local government employees who were seconded to her congressional office were also recalled and ordered to report to their mother units, she claimed.
Kid denied the accusations, saying Abigail voluntarily left her office. The contracts of her staff members were also renewed.
The two are pitted against each other in the 2016 mayoral race.
Big issues over small cakes
As acting mayor, Kid is yet to institutionalize major changes in Makati.
He said he will continue projects of the Binay projects if they are good for the city.
Among other Binay projects that Kid adopted is the birthday cake-giving program to senior citizens.
There were, however, some changes in the cake that caused trouble to Kid.
Former Makati City Vice Mayor Roberto Brillante on September 29 accused Kid of violating Republic Act 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and RA 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) because the cakes that he is distributing are allegedly overpriced.
The new cakes cost P265 to P280 each.
The former politician explained Kid’s contract for the new cakes is more expensive by P3 million or 35 percent higher than what Junjun’s administration was paying under a previous contract.
Kid awarded the P8.6-million contract to Goldilocks Inc. for the cakes of 31,187 senior citizens whose birthdays are from August 15 to December 15, 2015.
“Each cake is about P280 per slice but its size is reduced to nine inches in diameter and with two inches thickness or height,” Brillante noted.
Under Binay’s contract with Timstate Food and Beverages Corporation (Bakerite), the cake’s price was P306 per piece.
“[The previous cakes are] P26 higher but bigger in size of nine inches in diameter and four inches thick or about twice the size of what Goldilocks delivers under the Peña contract,” the ex-vice mayor said.