VICE President Jejomar Binay is officially out of the Cabinet of President Noynoy Aquino. Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday that the President has accepted Binay’s “irrevocable resignation.” That means he no longer heads the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and is no longer Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Affairs. Good riddance?
Binay’s resignation means he has thrown out the “pamamangka sa dalawang ilog” strategy he used to win the vice presidential race in 2010 and which allowed him to use government resources in the presidential campaign that he immediately launched after he assumed the post of vice president. That strategy means posturing as opposition leader while courting the votes of supporters of the Aquino administration.
Actually, it was only a matter of time before the VP would jettison the strategy. The process of it no longer becoming tenable started when charges were filed against him first for the overpriced construction of Makati City Hall Building II, which was conceived by him when he was still Makati City mayor. More alleged corrupt acts committed by him were uncovered when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee probed him.
Purging the bureaucracy of the corrupt is the avowed goal of PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid” mantra. Binay therefore has become an incongruous presence in the Cabinet. He was able to hold on to his post, however, because of his closeness with the Aquino family. In fact, he even evaded the posse that usually goes after high officials suspected of being corrupt. How else do you explain Justice Secretary Leila de Lima’s hesitance to investigate the charges against him?
To be fair, the setup worked both ways. In the major issues wherein the Aquino administration was placed on the defensive—the Mamasapano clash and the aftermath of super typhoon Yolanda comes to mind--Binay refused to take the lead in criticizing the government. That may have helped a bit PNoy in weathering the difficult tests.
But I would say Binay benefited from the setup more. I think he was able to top the surveys on preferred presidentiables for months because the President and his family refused to go all out against him. That means those who voted Noy-Bi instead of Noy-Mar (Roxas) in 2010 also were hesitant in fully letting Binay go.
The recent dip in his ratings, though, showed that those giving Binay the benefit of the doubt among the yellow crowd is dwindling. That must have convinced Binay and strategists of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) that it was time to draw the line. With the filing of the certificates of candidacy only a few months away, Binay needs to fully take the leadership of the political opposition.
With his resignation, the political setup has been simplified: Binay leading the opposition and Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas leading the administration coalition. The smaller parties and the independents will either gravitate towards either of them or form an independent bloc. It would be interesting to find out what the moves of the others who rated well in the surveys, like Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, will do after this.
Will Binay’s rating in the surveys rise following his resignation? Will his eventual sniping at the Aquino administration work for his candidacy? Those are interesting questions. But there is another one more intriguing: Will the Aquino administration now go all out in investigating and prosecuting Binay for corruption now that he is out of the Cabinet?