Jejomar Binay Image Credit: Hadrian Hernandez/Gulf News

Manila: Jejomar "Jojo" Binay was known as "Rambotito" during the presidency of Corazon "Cory" Aquino. A former human rights lawyer, he was a fierce defender of the former Philippine president -- and for a good reason. 

Cory Aquino handpicked Binay as acting mayor of Makati during the days following the "EDSA  Revolt", a military coupled backed by civilian uprising, which topped the ailing former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

Binay was not born into wealth and political prestige, nor did he taste the privileges accorded to the scions of the rich and powerful.

A man of the "common people", Binay grew up in Makati and Pasay. Orphaned at an early age, he supported himself through law school, shunned the corporate world for the parliament of the streets, and stood tall at the barricades at EDSA during those glorious four days in February 1986.

For 20 years, Jojo Binay presided over the phenomenal growth of his Makati, steering the once backward municipality into a vibrant and modern metropolis. Under his governance, the people of Makati shared in the fruits of economic progress through groundbreaking programs in education, health and social welfare. And as president of the United Opposition (UNO), Jojo Binay crusaded against political tyranny, inequality, injustice, ignorance and poverty, endearing him to the masses.

Roots

According to his official website Jejomar “Jojo”Binay was born on November 11, 1942 to Diego Binay of Batangas and Lourdes Cabauatan of Isabela. Orphaned at the age of nine, his uncle Ponciano of Culi-Culi, Makati took care of him.

As a young boy, Jojo would collect slop (kaning baboy) for his uncle’s backyard piggery, clean the front yard early in the morning, and look after his uncle’s fighting cocks. Afterwards, he would go to the public market for his daily errands.

Jojo is a product of the Philippine public school system. He graduated with honors from the Philippine Normal College Training Department, and the University of the Philippines Preparatory School. He also had to work to stay in school. He graduated with a degree in political science and Bachelor of Laws from the UP College of Law.

He passed the bar exams in 1968, and took masteral subjects in public administration and law in UP and the University of Sto. Tomas, respectively.

In between jobs and earning degrees, he gave lectures and taught law, political science and public administration at the then Philippine College of Commerce, Philippine Women’s University and St. Scholastica’s College.

He stood up against the dictator during Martial Law and was put into prison for defending political prisoners. He had just gotten married then, to Dr. Elenita Sombillo, who bore their first baby while he was in prison.

A defender of human rights, he became active in different groups and organizations that seek justice for everyone, especially the poor. 

He joined the August Twenty-One Movement, so named after the death of Ninoy Aquino,and was one of the founders of MABINI, the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism, Inc., with some of the prominent figures in the anti-dictatoship movement. Jojo Binay stood tall at the barricades of EDSA during the February 1986 Revolution that ushered in an era of democracy.

After the EDSA Revolution, President Corazon C. Aquino appointed Jojo acting mayor of Makati. Jojo was Mrs. Aquino’s first appointed local official.

Jojo later won, on his own, the mayorship of Makati in 1988 and was reelected in 1992 and 1995. He returned to Makati in 2001 and served three full terms.

He is known to be tough, fearless. But he has a soft heart for the young. And for family. He knows how important elders are in the family, more so in a city that has been through the worst. He values their contribution to society and the city, and he wants to give back to them. That’s why in Makati, senior citizens receive benefits unheard of elsewhere.

Grassroots

Binay knew poverty, but he saw wealth in education. As mayor, he built the best equipped public schools in the country, provided public school students with free school supplies and books from pre-school to college.

As a student activist, he used to rebel against a system where only the rich could get the best health services. He has done something about it. In Makati, medicines and hospital accommodations are free for the poor.

Despite his sterling achievements as a student, human rights lawyer, and local chief executive, Jojo still took up graduate studies at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP), the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), the Center for Research and Communication (now known as the University of Asia and the Pacific), the Joint Services Command Staff College (JSCSC), and the UP School of Urban and regional Planning. He was senior executive fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

Jojo is also active in civic work. He is the national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines and an officer of various international organizations. He also holds the rank of Colonel in the Philippine Navy Reserve Force. 

In 1998, Binay was appointed Chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) with cabinet rank. He was also appointed as Vice-chairman of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and Traffic Czar for Metro Manila.

Binay and his wife Elen have five children – Maria Lourdes Nancy, Mar-len Abigail, Jejomar Erwin, Marita Angeline, and Joanna Marie Blanca.

They are his inspiration, and provide support in every challenge he faces.

Binay has become an inspiration and a model to other leaders of the nation. He has been leading in the polls among presidential candidates.

He has triumphed over the challenges that he has faced in Makati. As Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines, he is ready to do his share in facing the new challenges in his career and in the life of the nation.

Case against Binay

Binay has been accused of corruption in connection with the overpricing of huge multi-level parking buildin gin Makati.

On February 19, the Ombudsman, which investigates and rules over graft charges against government officials, has escalated a complaint against Binay's son, former Makati City mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay, and 22 others, who were allegedly involved in the construction of an overpriced building for the local government, to the Sandiganbayan, an anti-graft court.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales filed two counts of plunder and six counts of falsification of documents against dismissed Makati City Mayor, Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr, son of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is also the presidential candidate of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Also charged for the anomalous erection of the P2.28 billion (Dh175 million) office of the Makati City Hall were 20 officials of the local government of Makati City — they were allegedly involved in a rigged awarding of the project’s contract, the Ombudsman said.

Besides them, two others — Orlando Mateo from Mana Architecture and Interior Design, Co. (Mana) and Efren Canlas of Hilmarc’s Construction Company — were also charged because they had no approved design, plans, and cost of the project when their companies won the contract to implement the project from 2007 to 2013, the Ombudsman added.

A bail bond of P30,000 for each count of graft and P24,000 (Dh2,000) for each count of falsification of public documents, or a total of P204,000 (Dh17,000) bail for each of the accused was recommended, said the Office of the Special Prosecutor.

The local government’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) completed in one hour the assessment of proposals of seven architectural firms that submitted bids for the project, the prosecutors said, adding that Mana also received an advance payment of P11.97 million even though the design plans and other requirements for the project had not been completed.

Vice-President Binay questioned the timing of the filing of the graft cases against his son. The official 90-day campaign period for the national elections began on February 9.

Immunity

The vice-president was also included in the graft case since he was still mayor of Makati City when the design of the proposed building project opened for bidding. 

However, the case will be filed against him after the end of his term in 2016, since he has immunity from suit as vice-president, said the Ombudsman, adding if Binay wins in this year’s presidential election, the case against him will be refilled only after the end of 2022,

Suspended Mayor Binay and his father are also facing other plunder complaints over alleged anomalous deals in the erection of the University of Makati and the Systems Technology Institute in the country’s financial district.

Vice-President Binay has remained a top presidential choice in the May 2016 polls, according to popularity surveys. In comparison, the ruling Liberal Party’s presidential candidate Secretary Mar Roxas has trailed behind in popularity surveys.