Former Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday said if he would win as congressman in the first district of Makati this coming midterm elections, he will push for various social programs like what he started when he was a local executive in the city.
These projects, according to Binay, include college scholarships, livelihood programs, and medical assistance in state-run specialized health care institutions and hospitals.
Binay, who served as Makati mayor for over two decades prior to being elected Vice President in 2010, is running under the United Nationalist Alliance of incumbent Makati Mayor Abigail Binay.
“If I were asked what motivates me to continue pursuing a career in public service, I would give a simple answer: I believe much still needs to be done in order to restore the dignity of the people,” Binay said during the Good Governance Forum organized by the YMCA of Makati.
Binay said if elected, he will also initiate tie-ups with the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Department of Labor and Employment, and other agencies to develop residents into highly competent, skilled and employable workers, and successful entrepreneurs.
He stated his intent to institute a medical assistance program with the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Heart Center, Lung Center of the Philippines, and various state-run hospitals, to expand residents’ access to specialized health care and tertiary health services outside the city.
Binay added that his congressional office will also allocate funds for the provision of additional equipment for the city-run Ospital ng Makati, including incubators and ventilators, among others.
Binay, the first local appointee of then President Corazon Aquino after the 1986 EDSA Revolution, lamented that while the nation achieved political freedom then, the fight for freedom remained, 33 years later.
“Poverty in the midst of plenty is our greatest shame. It is also our greatest challenge,” he said.
“The challenge for government, and for those who work in government, is to restore the dignity of the poor by redistributing economic opportunity. The challenge is to uphold the dignity of the people by recognizing their right to education and health care, to live in a community free from fear and hunger, and to be treated fairly and equally before the law,” Binay said.
“It may sound like an impossible dream to many, but it was done in Makati,” he said. He recalled his first year as acting mayor when he discovered that the municipality was bankrupt, with its obligations far exceeding its revenues.
“Today, Makati is the richest LGU in the Philippines. And that is not a baseless and self-serving claim. That distinction was accorded to Makati by the Commission on Audit,” Binay said.
The former mayor said that after 33 years, the city government has succeeded in extending to all citizens, especially the poor, quality health and education that were previously accessible only to a few.
“Our social programs have made an impact on the lives of the citizens of Makati. Poverty has dropped drastically. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, from a poverty incidence of 34.7 percent in 2000, we have succeeded in lowering the rate of poverty to 0.5 percent in 2012,” Binay said.
He also emphasized that far from being dole-outs that encourage mendicancy, as critics say, Makati’s social programs are the rights of citizens. “Makati’s social programs are an investment in the future, not an expense,” he said.
The hallmarks of the Binay administration—programs that promote affordable and decent health care, freedom from hunger, and good education—have raised the bar for local government units around the country.
“This was how we shared prosperity in Makati. In so doing, we redeemed the people’s dignity,” Binay said.
A staunch believer in education as a “great equalizer”, then Mayor Binay established a strong public education system that have given the youth from poor families in Makati a fighting chance at succeeding in life. He prioritized the construction of modern school buildings in every barangay, and institutionalized a free education program that provides virtually all basic school needs of students, at no cost to their parents, to this day.
The Makati Health Program he initiated, popularly known as Yellow Card, was named a “Best Practice” by the Dubai International Awards in 2002. Today, program beneficiaries enjoy subsidized hospitalization, free outpatient services, and free medicines, among others.”‹