By MIGUEL CARLOS LAZARTE
The seats of D.L. Umali Hall were flooded today as Vice President Jejomar C. Binay was invited as the guest speaker on an open forum arranged by the Department of Social Sciences in UPLB on the topics of governance, transparency, and social transformation.
The event was entitled ‘A GE conversation with a National Leader: A Forum on Governance, Transparency, and Social Transformation.’ It was initiated by the cluster of Political Science I and the UPLB GE Council. The said event was open to the public. However, the great number of UPLB students were cut off at the entrance because of the jam-packed D.L. Umali Hall.
The vice-president gave an overview of his advocacies on transparency and accountability. He further spoke of what the Filipino people will see in a Binay administration as he will be running for presidency in the upcoming 2016 elections. He had given emphasis on having a continuing annual increased budget of state colleges and universities.
He boldy addressed the allegations to him and his family as “puro bintang, puro laway, puro kasinungalingang wala namang batayan.” Furthermore, he identified these as “destruction by perception” saying, “Ang Pilipino kumakagat sa paninira, ayaw maghintay ng paliwanag”.
After his speech, the floor was opened to all for questions where Binay faced dagger exchanges between the students.
When a student inquired about the informal settlers in Makati, the vice-president said that there are none, further asking the student where. The student insisted that he himself has witnessed as he only lives nearby at Mandaluyong, eventually telling Binay: “Hanapin niyo nalang po, sir. ‘Di niyo pa po siguro nakikita.’ Binay then retracted saying there are around 3 – 5 % informal settlers, which then the student replied “Edi meron pa rin po.” This boomed jeers and cheers from the audience.
Binay tackled questions on dynasties, agriculture, human rights, labor force, and the like. As he answered questions, he seldom went to directly condemn the current administration he belonged to. Whereas, another student was alarmed, saying how it is disappointing to condemn an administration the vice-president himself belonged to.
During the open forum, the vice-president insisted that all the questions be answered despite the host telling that there are only 10 minutes left. This was pursued as all the questions were answered.
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After the event, Prof. Zoilo Belano, a professor at the Department of Social Sciences told [P] that the event had fulfilled its objective for the students to have an opportunity to ask questions to the vice-president. Belano was happy that there were many questions raised as the vice-president accommodated not only the media but the students who asked questions even after the event.
As for the course of POSC1, Belano said that it became a venue for critical thinking on the realities and plans stated by Binay for the students to evaluate the current system and to reimagine Philippine politics.
There were also plans for holding the same forum again on the topic as three people were originally invited; the others being Mar Roxas and Grace Poe. Belano told [P] that Binay was the first to respond. The tentative dates are October 16 for Roxas and November 6 for Poe. He also worries because the time constraints were evident because the holding of activities in the university was only until November. [P]