CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay is ready to rumble in the first presidential debate on Sunday, February 21.
Binay's spokesmen and his daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, on Saturday, February 20 revealed the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) candidate's preparation for the televised forum.
"Parang isang sundalo e na pupunta sa giyera na kailangan paghandaan mo na lahat. And of course, he has to throw all his punches kung kailangan," said United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) spokesperson Mon Ilagan in an interview with reporters.
(He's like a soldier going to war wherein you have to prepare for everything. And of course, he has to throw all his punches if needed.)
Binay's campaign spokesperson Rico Quicho agreed, saying the Vice President’s preparation for the debate is "right on track."
"He is studying the topics and directly relating it to his program of government,” said Quicho in a text message to Rappler.
The topics to be tackled during the debate is right up the UNA's standard-bearer’s alley – poverty, agriculture, peace and order, and the candidates’ track record.
Binay is most known for his platform of pro-poor governance and inclusive growth. (READ: The Leader I Want: BInay's to-fix list for 2016)
“The Vice President will take this opportunity to roll out his plans on how to solve poverty and programs that will uplift the lives of our people living in Mindanao,” said Quicho.
Repeat the 2010 magic?
At 73, Binay is one of the most experienced among all the presidential candidates. (READ: Cinderella Man)
He was Makati mayor for 21 years, former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chief, housing chief, and presidential adviser on overseas Filipino workers' concerns.
Joining a debate is not foreign to him either. In 2010, Binay entered into a political slugfest with then MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando during ABS-CBN’s Harapan vice presidential debates.
Binay held his ground during that debate, rebutting Fernando’s claims that he failed to address poverty in Makati as mayor.
With the crowd’s cheers egging him on, Binay took pride in the city governments' social services to residents, including free quality education, healthcare, and the Blu Card benefit program for the city’s elderly.
According to Nancy Binay, these experiences helped the Vice President prepare for the debate, too.
"For the past weeks, lagi siyang nagbabasa. So 'yung mga iba't ibang policy suggestions, iniisa-isa niya 'yun. Kumbaga from there, saka niya pinili 'yung magiging direction ng policy na susuportahan niya," said the senator.
(For the past weeks, he has been reading. He would tackle one policy suggestion at a time. From there, he would choose which policies to support.)
"I think mantra naman niya 'yun in life e. Lahat ng pinapasukan niya, pinaghahandaan niya, 'di ba? Katulad nitong pagtakbo niya ng presidency....And I think sa debate na ito, I think ganun din 'yung ginawa niya," she added.
(I think that is his mantra in life. He prepares for everything he gets involved in. Like running for the presidency. In the case of this debate, he also did the same.)
Ready for Sunday
The pressure is definitely on for the Vice President, but his camp said he spent the day before the debate to just “relax.”
The Vice President was originally scheduled to hold sorties in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro on Saturday, but these were later cancelled.
According to UNA president and Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, it was because Binay failed to take the 6:20 pm flight on Friday night.
“So since hindi natuloy ‘yung sortie in the morning, hindi na rin tinuloy ‘yung sa afternoon para walang tampuhan (Because the sortie in the morning will not push through, we also decided not to hold the one in the afternoon so no one would feel bad),” he told Rappler.
Tiangco added: “ [The Vice President will] just relax today. Alam mo naman si (You know) VP, does not like the word ‘rest.’”
Binay arrived in Cagayan de Oro past 11 am on Saturday. – Rappler.com