Just my opinion
By Raïssa Robles
Vice-President Jejomar Binay promises that if he becomes president, he will do for the whole country what he did for Makati.
This promise has tantalized many poor Filipinos.
But what exactly does that mean?
In June 2010, I examined in my previous blog site Binay’s achievements in Makati because he was pressing President Benigno Aquino Jr. to appoint him Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) instead of then Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo. This is an update of that post. I’ve added paragraphs based on my interview with Binay weeks after the piece came out. [NOTE: My blog – with the same name but with a different design – where the original piece was posted crashed because of a malicious virus. ]
To understand Binay’s brand of governance, I compared and contrasted it to that of another politician – the late mayor of Naga City Jesse Robredo.
I came away with the following conclusions. Both were qualified for the DILG post. But they represented two contrasting – even opposite – approaches to transparency and governance.
Mayor Jojo Binay turned Makati into a fine welfare state. The poor who comprise its majority would probably die for Binay, who has doled out to them free services. One social worker of a foreign NGO, who has lived in Makati for nearly as long as Binay was mayor there, told me for instance that under Binay, Makati’s public schools look like private schools and all the students are given free books.
But Mayor Binay runs Makati like “an urban warlord,” a fellow journalist also told me. This observation was separately documented in an investigative report published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) in the 1990s, which showed how Binay had taken over the network set up by his late predecessor Nemesio Yabut.
It was for this reason that I asked Binay during a one-on-one interview in 2010 whether he considered himself an urban warlord. He denied to me that he was one because he said he had no “imported” people – meaning – guns-for-hire, which he said is the mark of a warlord. You can read his answers in the transcript of my interview which I posted here.
Binay also told me in the same interview that he had a participative style of management. He uses a bottoms-up approach. He elaborated: “I dialogue with the people. I read a lot of newspapers.”
But when I asked him whether Makati during his term as mayor had People’s Organizatons participating in city governance – which is an innovation found in the Local Government Code – VP Binay replied that for a time “we had that …it had a natural death. In the first place, nobody insisted for [sic] it.”
This is a marked contrast to the participative style of management that the late Mayor (later Local Governments Secretary) Robredo practiced in Naga City. He institutionalized citizens’ participation in governance. Early on, Robredo persuaded the City Council to pass an Empowerment Ordinance that required citizen representation in various city government committees. I have included at the bottom of this piece my previous articles written for Asiaweek magazine to explain this.
I think this is the most basic difference between Binay and the late Jesse Robredo. While Robredo innovated with citizens’ participation, Binay innovated with giving the poor freebies. I’m not saying freebies are bad. All I’m pointing out is the great contrast between the two men in their approach to development.
Another big difference between the two was Robredo’s transparency and Binay’s lack of it.
This could be seen in the two websites of the city
The Makati City website during Binay’s tenure as mayor was not at all transparent. Fortunately, I was able to take some screenshots of the website before his son replaced it with a new one.
Binay was not much for transparency. The Makati City website razzle-dazzled.
But nowhere could you find a detailed breakdown of its income.
Nor get an idea of its yearly expenses.
In other words, you do not really know where exactly one of the country’s richest cities was deriving its income and where it was spending it.
In addition, it had no figures for 2008 and 2009.
This is in contrast to the Naga City website under Mayor Robredo. It was simple. Easy to navigate.
It disclosed in detail where it was getting the money for 2008 and 2009. Here’s the 2009 income statement. It is very detailed.
Continuation of Naga City income
Now compare that to how Makati City under Mayor Binay disclosed its income.
Perhaps the DILG Secretary Mar Roxas could require all local government units to use a standard format for disclosing income and expenses. Perhaps, that of Naga City can be used as the template.
Now notice that despite its being income-rich and the premiere business district, Makati City under Mayor Binay was in fact spending more than it was earning from 2004 to 2007:
Income – P4.936 billion
Expenses – P5.848 billion
Deficit – Or spending beyond income – P912 million
Income – P5.859 billion
Expenses – P6.525 billion
Deficit – Or spending beyond its income – P666 million
Income – P6.370 billion
Expenses – P7.707 billion
Deficit – Or spending beyond its income – P1.337 billion
Income – P6.905 billion
Expenses – P9.390 billion
Deficit – Or spending beyond its income – P2.485 billion
This shows that from 2004 to 2007, Makati under Mayor Binay spent more than it earned. But it didn’t say how it filled the gap in those four years.
This means that Mayor Binay went into deficit spending. But there was no explanation given what this was for.
Also, please note that in 2007, close to half of its revenues came from business taxes (P3.5 billion) and only P1.7 billion pesos came from real property taxes despite the stupendous number of office buildings and mansions there. And the deficit spending amounted to P2.485 billion.
What I like about what Jesse Robredo did in Naga City when he was mayor
Most local government units only post the bid notices online. But they do not post the winners.
In Naga City, Robredo posted even THE RESULTS OF THE WINNING BIDS.
Quezon City government also doesn’t have this feature. Just like many other cities and towns and other government websites.They are all opaque and mysterious. Posting the actual bid results should be a standard feature in all government agency websites.
Perhaps if Makati City had this feature, it would have been obvious early on that Hilmarc Construction was winning many major construction projects.
When I wrote this piece in June 2010, my hope then was that if Jesse Robredo could require every province, every city and town – including Makati – to be this transparent, then ordinary citizens can monitor any attempts at corruption better.
Robredo was never implicated in any corruption scandal.
In contrast, Binay has been the subject of an investigative report by Miriam Grace Go of Newsbreak entitled “The Lord of Makati: Can Binay explain his wealth?” It won first prize in the 2002 Jaime Ongpin Award for investigative journalism.
When I wrote the original version of this piece in June 2010, Robredo had not yet been appointed DILG Secretary. He and Binay were vying for the post. And I said Robredo would have to ask himself the following hard questions:
The post of DILG would require him to skip lunch with his family – a ritual he has been able to maintain as mayor of Naga. Can he do that?
As head of the DILG, he would also assume the post of chairman and presiding officer of the National Police Commission, which exercises administrative control over the entire police force. Can he be tough enough for this? Knowing that one of his predecessors, Col. Jaime Ferrer, was assassinated while doing this job? (I was covering Ferrer when he was gunned down.)
Finally, the post would require him to be the government and the Liberal Party’s eyes and ears in the countryside and control the grassroots state network – the same one that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo mobilized to try to amend the Constitution. Can he stomach the wheeling and dealing that goes with that?
Shortly before PNoy launched his presidential bid I was able to have a chat with Robredo. I asked him why he had not run for Congress, which he told me years ago was part of his plan for when his children reached college age.
“Plans change,” he told me.
Looking back, I sometimes wonder whether Jesse Robredo would be alive today had he not gotten the DILG post. But I also feel he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Below is my Asiaweek magazine report in the year 1999 on how Jesse Robredo changed Naga City.
I do hope the next President of the Philippines can duplicate what Jesse Robredo did in Naga in most of the cities and towns of the country. Which is why I batted for Robredo to become DILG Secretary.
When Robredo was hand-picked to receive the 2000 Magsaysay Awards, Asiaweek asked me to do a profile of him without knowing it was for that. Here it is:
How was VP Binay able to buy three properties even as a young and poor law student?
Binay told me in 2010 he had bought – not leased – the land for his piggery
Binay suffers 24.39% drop in two months; Roxas rating doubles
Ex-Foreign Secretary Romulo asks me about Binay’s kitchen
Binay fan wants his “idol” to explain the building
Isn’t this laying it on too thick, VP Binay
US spied on Binay and Roxas last year, says French newspaper Le Monde
Why VP Jojo Binay is backing Pres. Aquino in GMA’s poll fraud case
VP Jojo Binay told PNoy – Marcos burial issue is a “partisan conflict” needing win-win solution
Sana dumami pa ang kagaya ni Mang Jessie, transparent and may tiwala sa kakayahan ng ordinaryong mamamayan.
Social media can and should be able to popularize information. It will take only one spark.
This is worth rereading.
david de manila says
remulla, pinangakuang maging vice president ni binay. eventually, remulla din hahabol ng president. conditioning the mind of the mada lang yan. kaya, ingat lang, may mga plano na yan.
david de manila says
conditioning the mind of the masa. correction.
Ba’t naman po parang may diperensiya yung nilagay nyong pic ni Sec. Robredo?
bakit mo naman nasabi yon?
I didn’t mean to offend. I just noticed that Sec. Robredo’s photo looks like he has autism as compared to the distinguished look of the OTHER GUY beside him. Don’t you have a better photo of Sec. Robredo?
@hal While you said that you didn’t mean to offend, fact is you offended a lot of people dealing and living with autism BIG TIME! Autism is not a word to describe a personal, visual displeasure. Autism as a condition is dealt with by many people with so much love and compassion and your casual, insensitive use of it hurts a lot of people so I hope you get it this time that “autism” is not equivalent to “ugly,” “funny-looking,” or “less appealing.” Ms. Raissa, with all due respect, I am baffled how you just kept mum on this insensitive reply to hal’s question. After all this very mental exercise you so meticulously wrote, where is that writer’s heart to temper and question a destructive status quo? I ask you that.
pamboy raynes says
hindi mo kasi kilala si jess wala naman deperensya ung picture,
Martial Bonifacio says
Senate Hearing today live link below:
Nice that senate have their own youtube page which shows live feed from the Philippines. I hope SC will have the same policy especially if the case is “graft and corruption”.
vander anievas says
when it happens @martial bonifacio,
ililibre kita ng kape sa starbucks.
jorge bernas says
@ Macial B.,
Palagay ko ay hindi ipapalabas nang Supreme Court nang live ang mga malalaking kaso lalo na kong tungkol sa “Graft and Corruption” kasi baka mawala yong CASHunduan sayang din kasi yon ang laki pa naman? Itanong natin sa babaeng taga AREGLO dahil hanggang ngayon nawala na kaso sa kanya? tinulugan nang dapat mag-imbestiga o baka nakatanggap na?
Trillanes accepted binay challenge – A battle of Century “Rambotito vs Rambo”
jorge bernas says
Sana nga rey, pero sana unahin na ni binay ang senate hearing kasi parang umiiwas lang talaga sa senate hearing gayong matagal na siyang iniimbita…
at baka kahit ang debate ay iwasan din ni rambutito dahil takot pa rin mabunyag mga tagong yaman na galing sa N_ _ _ _?
vander anievas says
naku, malabo yun.
pa-impress lang yun.
pag naka-set na ay may mga alibis na lalabas.
alam niyang wala siyang mapapala sa debate…
Wow. This is a good and timely article on comparing leaders and their management style in a very objective manner, the fiscal policy/performance.
Ms. Raissa, our hope is fulfilled through DILG Memo Circular Nos. 2010-083 and 2012-141. This can be readily accessed on http://fdpp.blgs.gov.ph/. Another hope would be for people to utilize resources like this to scrutinize their local governments and translate the knowledge in electing effective leaders.
That’s my hope, too.
Thanks for coming by and sharing. And do join in the discussions here.
Found an old video on you-tube. Message is as relevant today as when it was made a few years back. Enjoy!
drill down says
it’s obvious that it is quite difficult to look for and vote robredos into the govt.
the “easier” alternative to have more rebrodos in the govt is to make the system less or not conducive to corrupt politicians by calling for the prez and congress to pass the right foi and anti-political dynasty laws.
methink, if there has been anti-political dynasty, noynoy may not have been president being direct decendant of cory and ninoy. also, leni robredo being next of kin of jesse robredo may have been barred from running for public office. same with robredo’s daughters, they might also be prevented from running for public office in the future.
drill down says
the idea is to have honest officials in govt by design, not plain luck or wishful thinking.
Martial Bonifacio says
PNoy offered to help Binay but won’t stop probe
Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla, Binay’s spokesperson for political concerns, said Aquino asked the Vice President about his family and how he could help him.
“Our understanding is that in the course of the conversation, the President asked about his family and VP replied the family is hurting from all the lies and baseless accusations, especially his wife,” Remulla said in a text message to media.
“At this point the President asked how he can help or ‘Paano ako makakatulong?’ It was in the context that the Senate was mentioned in the conversation,” Remulla said.
Remulla said Binay thanked the President for his concern.
“The Vice President respects the private nature of their conversation. It was after all a meeting between friends,” he added.
Private conversations, secret meeting talking about monkey business and yet they are the 1st one’s to have a press release, and Mr. Remulla in the same news article speaks about RESPECT???
Maybe VP Binay plays the respect part while Remulla plays the talking part lol
he, he, he, remulla is the talking parrot. he will not talk unless binay says so and approves. and between them, they have half a brain each.
Ka Enchong says
Half-half ba ‘kamo ang brain? On the left side of the brain, nothing is right – on the right side, nothing is left.
Talking about respect, I believe that the best way for the VP to show respect to those who voted him into office is to face inquiries squarely and prove himself worthy of the mandate he was given.
yes! time to stop running away. today is the day, rambolito. have courage. go to the senate and face inquiries. prep yourself up, don military fatigues once more, put on war paint and have uzi ready. and walk with head high. today is the day.