Binay’s turn

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Friday, December 20, 2013

THE cases of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay are proof that it is wrong to reveal your political intention too early in the electoral game.

Roxas has seen his image torn to pieces by honest critics and supporters of his political rivals over the national government’s failings relative to its response to the devastation wrought by typhoon Yolanda in Tacloban City. That brought his stock down as presidentiable.

Now its Binay’s turn. While he was not involved in the controversy being feasted on by netizens in social media, his having potentially abusive relatives is being raised.

What his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar “Junjun” Binay Jr. was perceived to have done tainted him, too.

The incident involving the young Binay happened last Nov. 30 yet but in this controversy freshness is not the only value. Rather, what it showcased regarding the leadership traits of the Binay family, which seems to be arrogance and power tripping, was more important. In any presidential run, a sign that a bet or his relatives are abusive is a negative factor.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer was the first to break the story, but it was the closed circuit TV footage of the incident that the newspaper’s website posted that is more devastating for the Makati mayor. It shows a convoy of vehicle that was only able to exit the gate of a Makati village after policemen entered the picture and the blue guards were “invited” to the police station.

Mayor Binay was in that convoy and so was his sister, Sen. Nancy Binay. The guards supposedly merely followed orders that the gate would be closed to exiting vehicles past 10 p.m. But they also apparently were not told of a protocol: VIPs like the president, the vice president and the mayor of the place, were exempted from the “no exit” rule.

The video footage didn’t have an audible audio, so we can say it was a mute testimony to what happened. In turn, we couldn’t say if Binay sounded abusive to the guards, or whether there was a harsh verbal exchange that merited the entry of the Makati police.

But even with this incomplete picture, the Binays’ image already suffered a beating.

The incident hits you in two levels. One is the apparent “wang-wang” mentality of Binay, which is arrogance. The other is the use of the police to cow three hapless blue guards, which is abuse of authority.

His policy against the “wang-wang” was among the applauded declarations of President Noynoy Aquino in his inaugural address in 2010. People obviously want their leaders not to consider themselves too seriously as VIPs. They want their leaders to be humble. They want them to follow the rules that they impose on ordinary citizens.

Had that video footage showed the Binay convoy eventually backing off and exiting the other gate, the effect on his and his family’s image would have been different. He would have been applauded for his humility and the blue guards rightly flogged for not following protocol. But he “muscled” his way out, even seeking police assistance in doing so.

The worry: imagine if the father would become the most powerful person in this country, how would the son comport himself?

In the footage, the one who raised the iron barrier was a cop. The policemen also brought the blue guards to the police station and kept them there for three hours. The blue guards, the police said, were “invited” not arrested, but as one lawyer noted, everybody, including the Supreme Court, know that “invitation” is euphemism for “arrest.”

The worry: if the father would become the most powerful person in this country, wouldn’t the son order around government functionaries for selfish ends?


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 21, 2013.


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