Tangentially, Binay has been in the news over the last few months, because of a rift within her family caused by local politics. Her younger sister, Abby, is running for reelection as mayor of Makati, a post their father, former Vice President Jejomar, held for six terms. Nancy and Abby’s only brother Junjun, a former mayor of Makati, has thrown his hat into the ring for the same position. Their father, who originally said he would let the voters decide, now publicly supports Abby, while Nancy has endorsed Junjun.
In spite of the rivalry, Nancy says her brother still attends the weekly Sunday lunches at her parents’ home next door. “May semblance of normalcy pa naman,” she says. Of her sister, Nancy candidly says, “matagal na yung strained relationship namin. Nahaluan pa ng politics, so it’s kind of complicated, but at the end of the day we’re still siblings, right? The effort will always be there to try and patch things up.”
We sat down with her at her home in Makati.
ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: How grueling has the campaign been?
NANCY BINAY: I’m not part of a slate so I can keep my own schedule. I sometimes travel with Manong Johnny (former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile), or with whoever is available. Iba-iba. Sometimes I go with my reelectionists: me, Grace, Bam, Senator Villar. Minsan we have events na all together. Like we’re all going to Bukidnon since Senator Migs is hosting an event for us. Sometimes I’m with Manong Johnny. Sometimes nagkikita kami ni Grace, since same boat kami. We’re both not part of a slate.
Manong Johnny (Enrile) is 95. I’ve been traveling with him. Omigod, he’s super strong. Ako nga yung nahihiya. I’m the one who has to step up. Ako, pagkatapos ng motorcade, rest muna. But siya hindi, go go go pa din. I think vitamins niya. The other week, we did a sortie. He flew into Bacolod, took the ferry to Iloilo. And then I met up with him to go to Cebu, and then we did a two-day sortie dyan sa province. Kung ako lang yan umuwi na ako. Iba pa din to go back home, recharge. I try to go home every day as often as I can. I have four kids. My youngest, the twins are 10. I like coming home to be with them.
ESQ: So you get along with the senators from different parties?
NB: We have a group called seatmates. Me, Migs (Zubiri), JV (Ejercito), Sonny (Angara), Sherwin (Gatchalian). Then there’s an older part of the group, Senator Villar, Sen Gordon, and Sen Loren (Legarda). In the Senate we’re all seated together, so seatmates ang naging pangalan namin. When we’re in session, we see each other about four times a week.
One thing I’ve learned from being in politics for the longest time. Our family life has been blended with politics since the time Dad was mayor. In politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies. Hindi ka puwede magtanim ng sama ng loob because you don’t know, the next week kayo na ang mag best friend or you have to work together for an advocacy. That’s the reality in politics.
ESQ: Have you had to make compromises?
NB: Sometimes there are things you have to compromise to pass a bill. Hindi puwede always yung version that you want. You have to give up certain things to pass a certain law. Give and take naman. Yung yung art of politics. Up to what point, can you compromise to arrive at a certain result. At the end of the day you have to think, ano ang nakakabuti sa marami?
ESQ: What accomplishments are you most proud of in the last six years in the Senate?
NB: I’m proud of my active participation in the Senate. Presence ko during hearings, attending bicam hearings. I’ve been absent just two or three times per session, very rarely late, maybe two or three times. I don’t have perfect attendance like Senate President Tito Sotto who is always there, but my attendance is very good.
I don’t feel comfortable taking credit for whatever bills are passed. The Senate is a collegial body, so everything is a concerted effort. For example, the bills on universal health care, on maternity leave, on the first 1,000 days. We all worked hard on those bills. Mga bills for women and children, because when I ran in 2013, that was my advocacy.