Who is Jojo Binay?

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Although Monday’s midterm elections are a clear victory for ‘Team PNoy,’ the electoral coalition of the widely popular president, Benigno ‘NoyNoy’ Aquino III,  they aren’t necessarily a defeat for vice president Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay, the most visible member of the opposition coalition, and he’ll turn toward the  Philippine presidential election in 2016 in as good a position as any other potential contender.philippines

Aquino, who handily defeated former president Joseph Estrada in the May 2010 presidential election, chose senator Mar Roxas as his running mate when he abandoned his own presidential campaign to support Aquino for president.  But because Philippines vote separately on the president and the vice president, they elected Binay, and not Roxas, to the vice presidency.  Imagine a world where U.S. president Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, but instead of Democratic vice president Joe Biden, was forced to accept Republican Paul Ryan as vice president.

Although they head opposing political movements, Aquino and Binay have worked harmoniously together in office for the most part — it helps that they are presiding over one of the world’s booming economies, with 6.6% GDP growth in 2012 alone.  That factor, which brought so much success for ‘Team PNoy’ in the 2013 parliamentary elections, is likely to help favor Binay in the 2016 presidential contest.  Aquino won’t be able to run for reelection under the Philippine constitution, so Binay will be the senior incumbent running in 2016, and his advisers are already crowing that, notwithstanding the 2013 midterm elections, Binay is the man to beat in 2016

Roxas is likely to run in 2016 as the candidate of Aquino’s Partido Liberal ng Pilipinas (LP, Liberal Party of the Philippines), and with Aquino’s endorsement as the best candidate to further the reforms and prosperity of Aquino’s administration.  But as the incumbent vice president, Binay will be able to run on the country’s rising economic growth.  Having defeated Roxas for the vice presidency in 2010, Binay is seen as somewhat of a favorite against Roxas in a potential 2016 rematch for the presidency.  Roxas isn’t necessarily a lock for the Liberal Party’s nomination, and he could always pull out of the race in favor of Joseph ‘Jun’ Abaya, the secretary of transportation and communications.  Binay may also face Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr., who would like to run as the candidate of the Partido Nacionalista (NP, Nacionalista Party), and the surprise top vote-winner in the 2013 senatorial elections, independent Grace Poe Llamanzares, who’s part of the Team PNoy coalition and daughter of the late presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr., is now being mentioned as a potential 2016 contender as well.

Despite the fact that Binay’s own Nagkakaisang Alyansang Makabansa (UNA, United National Alliance) won just three senatorial seats to nine for Team PNoy in Monday’s election, only one of the ‘Team PNoy’ senators is actually a member of the Liberal Party itself — two senators, including Poe, are independents and three senators are Nacionalistas, with three additional senators belonging to smaller parties in the ‘Team PNoy’ coalition.  Furthermore, while the ‘Team PNoy’ senatorial victories mean that the UNA’s Juan Ponce Enrile is likely to lose the Senate presidency after five years, that’s not necessarily bad news for Binay personally, who will be able to take credit for any popular legislation that the Aquino administration passes.

Binay got his start, initially, as an ally of Aquino’s mother.  In the aftermath of the Marcos era, former president Corazon Aquino in 1986 appointed Binay mayor of Makati, one of the cities that comprise the wider metropolitan Manila area, and the financial heart of the Philippines.  Except for a brief period from 1998 to 2001 when his wife held the post, he was elected and reelected as mayor until 2010.  He served as the governor of greater Manila at the end of the first Aquino administration and he thereupon served as governor of the chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority from 1998 to 2001 under former president Joseph Estrada.  Estrada himself made a sweeping comeback in winning the tightly contested Manila mayoral race, which gives the UNA another key position in advance of the 2016 election.

Furthermore, because Aquino’s nephew, Paolo ‘Bam’ Aquino IV, and Binay’s daughter, Nancy Binay, were both running in the senatorial election, it was seen as somewhat of a proxy race between Aquino and Binay.  Under the structure of Philippine senatorial elections, candidates campaign nationally and the top 12 vote-winners are elected to the Senate.  With unofficial results in, Binay has placed fifth on the list with around 1.35 million votes more than Aquino, who placed seventh.  That’s a fairly imperfect proxy for the 2016 presidential race, of course, but it gives Binay’s father some amount of momentum and it adds to the Binay family’s growing role in national politics.  Jojo Binay’s other daughter, Abigail Binay, is a member of the House of Representatives, and his son, Jejomar Binay, Jr., is the current mayor of Makati, and both were reelected on Monday with wide margins.

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