Binay’s rise and fall

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Sunday, May 4, 2014


I ONLY met Vice President Jejomar Binay once, and that was in 2010 when he was still a candidate for the post he now holds. He was alone when he entered the office for a talk with Sun.Star Cebu editors and reporters. He initially impressed me for his simplicity.

If Binay were a movie star and a woman, he is Nora Aunor. He has the same skin color as the Superstar, and is of the same stature. But he is obviously an intellectual. In that chat, he answered questions fluently and intelligently. And he struck me as sincere.

But that was until he talked about how he won over the voters in Makati to his side.

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He ruled that city for many terms and the strength of his influence can be gleaned from his success in turning over the reins of Makati to his son. When he built his political dynasty, Makati was his first political base.

Binay said that one of his secrets was attending the wake of those who died in the city. He thought that the relatives of the dead would remember him more if he surfaced during their saddest moments. So he had his staff tell him where the next wake was.

That changed my perception of the man. So he went to wakes not because he wanted to ease the pain felt by the relatives of the dead but to get votes for the next election. I realized that he was so obsessed with politics every move he made was meant to score pogi points.

It wasn’t surprising, therefore, that he eventually won the vice presidential race, beating President Noynoy Aquino’s running mate then, Mar Roxas, by a slim margin.

It was considered an upset because he was mostly working under the radar. But he was a tireless campaigner.

When made to choose by President Aquino the Cabinet position he would like to hold in his administration, Binay selected that of a housing czar. It is a post with the least risk but with oodles of rewards. In this sense, he was wiser than Roxas, who chose the controversy-prone interior and local government position.

No wonder that in the survey conducted in March by Pulse Asia, Binay topped the list of probable presidential candidates in 2016 with 40 percent of those asked making him their first choice.

Roxas, who was hobbled by criticisms on his handling of the relief efforts for the victims of super typhoon Yolanda, got only six percent of those polled.

But elections are not won two years before the actual balloting. Voter preference is fickle, as proven by what happened in the 2010 presidential elections. Former senator Manuel Villar led in the results of all the poll surveys months before voting day. But his rating plunged when issues like the C-5 road anomaly surfaced during the campaign.

Binay maybe wily, but he will eventually have to expose his true self as the election nears and political lines are drawn. He has so far managed to distance himself from controversies, but I doubt if he will be able to shake free from the alliances he has built.

Binay is with the United Opposition whose other two leaders are Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former president (now Manila City Mayor) Joseph Estrada, father of Sen. Jinggoy Estrada. Enrile and Jinggoy are facing plunder cases in connection with the multi-
billion-peso Priority Development Assistance (PDAF) scam.

Binay attempted to defend his allies from the accusations but backed off when in the few times that he spoke on the issue he had to fend off widespread criticisms. The vice president himself is being accused of corrupt acts when he was mayor of Makati City.

That’s why when push comes to shove I do not think Binay will survive. Being associated with politicians accused of plunder (Erap himself is a plunder convict) is not good considering that corruption will be a major issue in the 2016 presidential elections.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 05, 2014.

Opinion

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