The Makati of the Binays
(image borrowed from manila.coconuts.co)
The Makati of the Binays is not what they have painted it to be. Binay’s career as mayor started when Pres Cory Aquino made him OIC (office in charge), replacing the Yabut dynasty. Little did we Makati residents know, that we were actually trading one set of shackles for another. The Yabuts lorded it over Makati for the longest time and with the arrival of Jejomar Binay after the EDSA revolution of 1986, the changes have only been cosmetic, nothing more.
I have been a resident of Makati since 1981 when we first moved to Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati from Roosevelt in Quezon City. The street where I spent the rest of my childhood is known to commuters these days as “Tulay”. Back then, it was chaotic, loud and dirty. Back in the 1980s, the barangay captain of Tulay were in cahoots with the local police in running a protection racket covering the vendors, tricycles, jeeps and buses. Now, not much has changed as the police outpost right outside the doors of Jollibee Guadalupe is still the command center of the illegal terminals of jeeps and FX shuttle services, oh and yes, that protection racket still exists but with more patrons now. However that’s a local Makati police issue, and though it has never changed for decades, it is not the subject of this article.
Being formerly married to an employee of Makati City Hall, you get to know a lot of secrets and dirt that is usually common practice among the employees but are relatively unknown to the general public. The Makati City Hall is a petris dish of corruption, the only difference is that there has been so much money that they managed to kick a few benefits to the citizens to ensure victory every election. What follows is a first-hand account of the corruption that I have witnessed, even enjoyed, from the Makati of the Binays.
Yes, Makati’s city government has subsidized housing for the poor. There are buildings known as Makati Homes, tenement apartments built exclusively (supposedly) for the poor of Makati. There are 2 such apartment buildings, one along JP Rizal and another in Brgy Rizal, both along the fringes of Makati City. Still an OK location, I think.
But what makes it a source of corruption is that Makati Homes is not occupied by the poor of Makati. It is occupied by Makati city hall employees, their fixers and their favorites, especially those with an “endorsement letter” from with the mayor himself or the vice-mayor. To get a unit, you need to be very, very friendly with the powers that be. If you are an indigent, chances are you will never own a unit there. Frankly, no one does because all that are given to the residents are the rights to stay there. Each month, residents pay a certain amount as rent. Back in 2003 to 2007, they were charging each unit P3,000. Not bad. However, no one in the area is truly poor. Parking is a terrible problem and cars are piled one over the other. A fence keeps the real indigents out. Without a padrino, you cannot stay there, even if there are available units. And yes, the ghost employees live here too. There is special units that house the old favorite concubines of former Vice Mayor Mercado and some of the councilors. When you’re a concubine of the vice mayor or a councilor, and you hit 30 or when the principal has grown tired of you, there is a unit waiting for you at Makati Homes for your “retirement”.
The Yellow Card
All Makati City employees, senior citizens and whoever the Binays like, get a Yellow Card. This is Makati’s answer to health care. Not to totally bash it, the Yellow Card was helpful at the time when it still worked. Users of this card was given good medical care at the Makati Medical Center and was also allowed admission even without a deposit. In principle and in practice, it was a good plan. However, the Makati City government were not paying their bills with the Makati Med. The city government was supposed to pay part of the bills while Makati Med shouldered a certain percentage. Medicines and other fees were to be shouldered by the patient. Sometime in 2004 to 2005, the Yellow Card was no longer accepted by Makati Med. City Hall had stopped payments and their reason was that the Ospital ng Makati was finished and that the poor of Makati could go there for treatment, Yellow Card or not. What the Binay people never said was that there was another OsMak along Malugay st with a huge gate and only treated preferred patients such as UMAK department directors, City Hall managers, and the like.
The rest, as they say, is history. Binay approved the bid of Hillmarc to build the new OsMak at Malugay St, which became the source of pocket money for the Binays.
Ah the senior citizens, the people that Binay loves to manipulate and exploit. Having a senior citizen uncle, I would see barangay people come to the house during election season and would give him a gift basket. Every Christmas, the Binay administration has made it a rule that all seniors would be given a gift basket, cakes on their birthdays, free movies and free burial assistance. There was even a promise of free caskets for the recently deceased. City hall promised that all senior citizens will get P10,000 on their 90th birthday. Guess what, my uncle is 91, a Makati voter and was given the runaround when he went to claim his P10,000. He never got such a gift.
The gift baskets and other benefits are given only to the senior citizens who are Makati voters. If you don’t vote in Makati, even if you are a resident, you don’t get anything.
Life at the UMak
How lowly have the Makati teacher been provided for! The University of Makati claims to be a school for the poor. While maybe it is, the professors and employees are all vultures flying over the heads of the helpless students. They have professors who have graduated BSE or BEED but have no master’s degrees and are even unable to pass the LET despite several attempts. There is an inhouse fixer who takes payment from the teachers and brings them to MLQ University to facilitate their master’s degree which they finish in less than a year without attending a single class. Insiders call it “MLQuick” degrees. A close scrutiny of their faculty will reveal so many unqualified teachers who have been teaching there for decades. While salaries may have been in ATM form, their 13th month pay are given in envelopes. Why? Because of the Co-op operated by one of those named in the Sandiganbayan lawsuit, a certain De Veyra who offers teachers the ability to loan their whole year’s salary at 3% straight interest each month plus other fees.
So every time the national government announces additional allowances for teachers, UMAK teachers do not get it. Jejomar Binay would announce that the city government can very well provide for their teachers and do not need such assistance from the national government. Come Christmas season, whatever amount the newspapers report that teachers are supposed to get, arrive in some teachers’ 13th month envelope and is labeled as “mayor’s cash gift”. Mind you, not all teachers get the cash gift. Some will have theirs forfeited because of the loans they have incurred from the Co-op. A UMAK employee lives in servitude of these loans and cannot resign. So what do they do? They resort to film showings, theater plays, projects (neckties and TV sets for the teachers), even class card reprints and photocopied test papers which the teachers sell to the students. Also the teachers make big money from the books that are copied from other textbooks but have their names as authors. What is usually a P60 plagiarized book is sold to the students for P230, because everybody from the dean to the director to head of the department down to the teacher has a cut in each book sold. And these books, required by teachers, are sold by the thousands. Never have I ever seen a university require students to buy a textbook and a workbook in every subject. I only had those in my grade school years.
All the schools of Makati live by such corruption and ultimately it is the poor who pay the price. Yet it is the poor who defend Binay to the death, not knowing how they have been exploited and used for the Binay family’s own gain.
What people don’t see is that these gifts are used as excuses to make budget allocations for a variety of things, many of which benefit very few, if at all given. The poor of Makati are conditioned to become mendicants. There has been no job assistance for the poor or any real assistance, everything the Binays did, they did to keep the poor from ever becoming anything but. Binay loves the poor, because the poor are easy to manipulate and response well to bribes and dole outs. God forbid if the poor ever become gainfully employed, pay their taxes, make something of themselves, they will no longer be as easy to manipulate and deceive.
I am still a Makati resident to this day but I now live in the part of Makati the Binays cannot claim to have built by their administration. I am happy that Junjun Binay (who was my classmate in Nat Sci back in UP), is barred from ever taking office. The abuse and plunder of Makati needs to stop. I pray Jejomar Binay does not win in the presidency in 2016 so he can face the plunder cases (with evidence) filed against him. We deposed a much stronger dictator in 1986, a time when we were very weak from the systematic thievery of our economy. 30 years later we have achieved so much. Let us not allow the thieves back in Malacanang.
Let’s keep Philippines, dictator and plunderer-free.