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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, February 24, 2016
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with Ninfa Leonardia
OPINIONS

The Binay inheritance

Ninfa Leonardia The presidential debates held yesterday in Cagayan de Oro City, provided not only information but also entertainment to all those who dropped their tasks for the time to listen to it. And they were able to assess the suitability of the five persons who are aiming for the presidency of their country from whom they will choose one to vote for on May 9. That is why many are looking forward to the next in the series.

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From the comments I heard, both from columnists and people on the street, Mar Roxas did very well in defending himself, and probably gained more supporters from it. But some said they were disappointed with Rodrigo Duterte who was just himself, bragging about his unorthodox method of governance. I was surprised, though, at the way Jejomar Binay projected himself. Hadn't he always made us believe that he was a very poor boy, whose success came from his hard work and dedication?

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In the debate, he claimed that his wealth had come from his inheritance, not only from his father, but also from his mother. Me, I am sure this is the first time I have heard him talk about this inherited wealth. I have a friend, a very close one, when I was working in Makati and she was a classmate and co-graduate of Binay. And this was in the 1980s, when she told us that they were often sorry for him because he was very poor and seemed very underprivileged. I don't recall her ever mentioning that he was an heir to a considerable fortune.

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Then there was this item in a national daily yesterday that said President Aquino got richer by P20 million last year. Now, that is not surprising at all, because, everybody knows that the President gets a handsome salary, and does not have a family, or children to send to school, does not have to rent a house since Malacañang is his residence for free, and he does not have to pay for its maintenance, too. What's more, he belongs to a “buena familia”, that is probably among the wealthiest in the country. I am sure he pays the correct amount of taxes, too.

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Meanwhile, business reports say that our overseas workers had remitted $28.5 billion to our country in 2015. The amount, is said to show a 4.9 percent growth over the previous year. What now, when our overseas foreign workers, or OFWs, are reported to be in danger of losing their jobs in the oil-producing countries of the Middle East? Despite the frantic assurances of Malacañang and the Labor Department, news from abroad say otherwise. And few seem to believe in the claims that there are enough jobs waiting for those who may be retrenched from their work abroad.

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Of course we have remittances from other countries where Filipinos are also based. Such remittances seem to come from all over the world because Filipinos are the most aggressive and well prepared workers whose work is appreciated by their foreign employers. But the biggest amount seems to come from the Middle East workers who work for very wealthy oil-producing companies who can afford to pay well. The present oil crisis seems to be affecting many parts of the world. What a pity that we do not produce oil ourselves. What happened to all those claims of potential oil wells before?

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This kind of news is right up the alley of presidential wannabe Rodrigo Duterte. Remember that notorious drug lord of Mexico Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was captured recently for the second time after a daring escape from jail before? He is now having a book written about his exploits, as well as a movie on his life. Now in a very high security jail, he complains that he is being tortured, because guards wake him up every two hours when he is sleeping at night. I can imagine Duterte saying he is lucky that he has not been made to sleep permanently.

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Well, Manny Pacquiao still has some faithful fans who continue to defend him. A group in Cebu reportedly burned all their Nike shoes upon hearing that Nike had cancelled Paquiao as their endorser . But a staff member of Pacquiao says the Nike contract had ended two years ago and had not been renewed, but Pacquiao just continued endorsing them without payment, except for wearing their products. So it was no great loss to him. I also doubt if their act will bring more sales to Nike here.*

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