Binay is damaged goods until….

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

I was at home feeling sick, but I didn’t care to listen to the supposedly much anticipated speech that Vice-Pres. Jejomar Binay made last Thursday afternoon at the PICC for the simple reason that we already know that the Vice-President won’t admit to the corruption charges hurled against him. Of course, I listened to the news on TV after he made that speech, for instance his comparing the P2.7 billion Makati office and parking building with many other government buildings. If you ask me, he was comparing apples with oranges because those were different buildings built for different purposes.

Secondly, we’ll never know if those government buildings were also similarly overpriced, but no one looked into the bidding process whether they were rigged or not. The Vice-President was emphatic that his accusers didn’t have any solid evidence of his wrongdoing. But on the other hand, the people accusing him were his own friends who turned against him. In fact one of them admitted that he was in the bidding committee that rigged the whole shebang! And both admitted to getting kickbacks from that project.

In the end, the Vice-President used that occasion not only to clean his name in the eyes of the public, but suddenly the rest of it took the form of a man who was just nominated as presidential candidate. But it doesn’t change the fact that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee came up with damning evidence that could stand out in court. As I already wrote in my previous columns, all my contractor friends told me that this building was obviously overpriced! So now the big question is, where do we go from here?

It is unfortunate that House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. already made his point that the Vice-President cannot be impeached because the purported crime was committed when he was Mayor of Makati. What I would like to see is for Congress to debate on the issue whether the Vice-President should be impeached or not?

Meanwhile, many pro-Binay followers say that Binay has done great things for the City of Makati. If you ask me, if Binay was so great, how come there are so many poor people in Makati? It is the premier city in the Philippines, yet under the Binays, the poor has remained poor. But then the rumors of corruption under the Binays have been spoken in hush tones in many coffee houses. It is only now that someone had the guts to accuse him in public. In my book, VP Binay is damaged goods until a court clears his name!

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Last week, the Wall Street Journal came up with a very damaging story that the Philippines is “the most dangerous place to be Korean.” That article got many alarm bells clanging up my ears. Of course figures don’t like as the article noted and we quote.

“The South Korea Foreign Ministry released new data earlier this month counting 780 crimes committed in the Philippines against Koreans in 2013 — a significant number compared to the 589 offenses in China. Crimes against Koreans in China decreased from 759 in 2012, while the figure leaped from 628 that year in the Philippines. Included in the 2013 numbers are 13 murders — all local businessmen — as well as 12 robberies, 678 cases of theft, nine kidnappings and 12 assaults, according to the Chosun Ilbo, a leading South Korean English-language newspaper.”

First of all, let me say it here that most of the Koreans living here are not really the rich and highly educated ones. So perhaps we are getting the bad eggs, while the rich Koreans are finding paradise elsewhere. Just over a year ago, there was a shootout in AS Fortuna Ave. near the Peace Convent where a Korean businessman Yi Sung Jung of Su Won City was killed in broad daylight, while his driver was wounded. The police believe was some kind of gangland killing by the Korean underworld.

In light of this damaging report, my good friend, Sir Arthur Lopez, President of The Philippine Hotel Federation sent me this communiqué saying, “This is alarming for the tourist industry of the country. We are killing the “goose that lays the golden egg.” This negative travel advisory from Korea and China on the safety and security of the tourists in our country does not augur well for our tourism industry”.

I fully concur with the concerns of Sir Arthur Lopez especially when he issued an appeal to all concerned government agencies especially those responsible for the country’s Peace and Order to act swiftly and decisively to erase the image of lawlessness and criminal resurgence that is being conveyed to a potential visitor to the Philippines.

Meanwhile the damage to Philippine Tourism is beginning to show. I gathered that Budget airlines like Cebu Pacific and Tiger Airways Philippines have cancelled 149 charter flights to and from Mainland China thanks to that travel advisory. The Tourism Industry better act fast and fix this problem before it’s too late and our Tourism industry will take a nosedive!

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For email responses to this article, write to [email protected] or [email protected]. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.











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