Binay’s untenable position

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014


THE rumor that Vice President Jejomar Binay’s run for the presidency in 2016 has the support of a faction of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan has been thrown around for months now. Binay’s claim that he may get the support of the Liberal Party (LP) seems to run through the same street with that rumor. Meaning that, it isn’t new.

But there’s a disjoint somewhere. The rumor refers to a faction of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan, not the LP, which is a different entity. The Cojuangco-Aquino clan’s ascendancy in the party is only because President Noynoy Aquino is a member of it. But the clan does not control the LP.

This story is actually a continuation of what happened in the 2016 elections, when a faction of the clan supported Binay’s candidacy instead of that of PNoy’s running mate Mar Roxas. That proved to be the difference between winning and losing for Binay, who ran under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition.

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Binay winning the vice presidency in 2010 was a matter of playing the cards right.

Binay got the support of part of the “yellow” crowd propping up Aquino while getting the base support of UNA followers. Roxas lost because he a big chunk of PNoy’s supporters went to Binay.

But this setup can also be Binay’s weakness. This is probably the reason why he is floating the alliance-with-LP line early. He knows that the arrangement that allowed him to win in 2010 could shatter in 2016. His position has become untenable because of a changed political setup.

In 2010, UNA was a political power because of the presence there of political veterans Juan Ponce Enrile and Joseph “Erap” Estrada. But Enrile is among the three senators who were charged with plunder with the Sandiganbayan in relation to the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam. Charged with Enrile is Erap’s son, Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada.

Binay himself is being charged with plunder together with his son, the current Makati City mayor, for a questionable project implemented in that city when the vice president was the mayor there. While Binay still tops the surveys on 2016 presidentiables, we know that fortunes in politics can change fast. Remember former senator Manuel Villar in 2010?

While voters thinking can be manipulated, the issues bugging UNA is just too difficult to cover up.

Villar, who topped the ratings game before Aquino decided to run for president, fell from the pedestal with just the C-5 issue where he was accused of using his influence to have a road constructed by the government pass through the subdivisions he owns.

That issue is loose change compared with the pork barrel scam or Binay’s plunder case.

Binay knows that if he continues to associate with the other UNA stalwarts, he could not hope to win the “yellow” crowd, or even a faction of it, to his side. While the “Daang Matuwid” mantra has suffered some hits under the Aquino administration, its basic aim, which is to purge government of the corrupt, is still a compelling goal.

His association with UNA would conflict with that mantra.

Binay will therefore have to make hard decisions in the coming months. The most important would be if he still wants to align himself with the UNA.

If he does not, then he must set up his own political organization that will no longer associate itself with Enrile or Erap, then hope that the “yellow” crowd will see the move as purgation.But if he decides to maintain his links with UNA, then he must prepare to be alienated from a big chunk of the “yellow” crowd even if gets the support of a faction of the Cojuangco-Aquino clan.

Either way, his “namamangka sa dalawang ilog” ways seem to be over.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 07, 2014.

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