Who is he?
Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay Jr. is the mayor of Makati City, which is part of Metro Manila and is considered the financial heart of the Philippines. He is the son of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who also served as mayor of Makati from 1986 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010.
Why he is in the news?
The Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman on March 11 ordered Binay Jr. suspended from office for six months. The move follows his January 29 arrest for failing to appear before a subcommittee of the Philippine Senate Committee on Accountability of Public Officers and Investigations, commonly called the Blue Ribbon Committee. On more than a dozen occasions, he has refused to answer questions before the subcommittee regarding allegations by former city officials that he and his father committed plunder during their times as mayor. The most egregious allegations relate to possible kickbacks from the awarding of overpriced contracts for construction of a parking facility at a Makati City Hall building.
Binay Jr. is one of a number of current and former Makati officials being investigated by the Blue Ribbon Committee, but the center of the controversy is his father, who is no stranger to graft allegations. In addition to the committee’s investigations, the Philippines’ Anti-Money Laundering Council at the end of February asked the Philippine Court of Appeals for permission to inspect the vice president’s bank accounts.
What can we expect from him?
Binay Jr. will continue to be uncooperative, following a script that his father used to stymie graft investigations during his tenure as mayor. The family seems to have decided that cooperating would only provide ammunition for their accusers. The Binays are one of the strongest political clans in the Philippines, and the vice president remains the leading contender to succeed President Benigno Aquino following the May 2016 election.
The next year will see both genuine anti-corruption crusaders and opportunistic political opponents pursue the allegations against the Binays and their associates in an effort to keep the elder Binay from the presidency. Recent polls suggest that the allegations have dented the vice president’s popularity, but he still leads his closest opponents—Senator Grace Poe and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas—by double digits.
Thumbnail image: Storm over Makati. Source: Benson Kua’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.