AFTER he gave up his Cabinet posts, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s scathing attack against the Aquino administration the other day was expected. That was his first press conference after the resignation and he obviously wanted to get a good impression from the opposition who might still be wary of his political allegiance. What I didn’t expect was President Noynoy Aquino’s reaction.
Binay, who is facing corruption charges, described the Aquino administration as “manhid, palpak” (dense and a failure). I say that is the only quotable phrase in his press statement because virtually all of his criticisms are mere repetitions of what have already been hurled at Malacañang in the past several months and when he was still with the Cabinet.
The VP is a Johnny-come-lately in the opposition because, for the longest time, he followed the “namamangka sa dalalwang ilong” strategy. He sought to ingratiate himself to President Noynoy Aquino and his supporters while identifying himself with the opposition. He was in the Cabinet but led the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In a way, that strategy partly saved his skin when allegations of corruption surfaced against him. The allegations tackled by the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee in its probe on the VP had many loose ends. I was particularly interested in the ownership of the so-called “Hacienda Binay” in Batangas and the whereabouts of the people who allegedly were entrusted with the VP’s “ill-gotten” wealth. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) could have gotten deeper into that but refused to touch those allegations.
At the height of the Senate investigation, I heard Justice Secretary Leila de Lima say that the Department of Justice would look into the allegations. Days later, the VP sought out the President and talked with him. Details of the meeting were not divulged but de Lima seemed to have later lost interest in the Binay case.
I therefore thought that even if the VP has resigned from his Cabinet posts and drew the line, his relationship with PNoy would remain civil. But apparently Binay misjudged PNoy’s nature. In his statement, Binay focused his verbal assault more on the Aquino administration in general and less on the President. Even then, PNoy took offense.
Aquino is descended from a landlord clan and is therefore a proud man. Thus, even if Binay didn’t focus his criticism on the President, the latter still felt he was the one targeted. Only a few days after Binay quit, a conflict has erupted. The President has questioned Binay’s motivation and promised to answer Binay’s claims “punto por punto.”
This is interesting because Binay’s offensive against the Aquino administration is being countered by the President, and things may turn ugly for the VP in the future. If their personal relation turns sour, the gloves will be off. This would not be good for Binay considering the many skeletons kept in his closet. Nothing will go in the way now of the investigation into the VP’s alleged shenanigans.
But I think that is a risk Binay has to take in his pursuit of his ambition to become president in 2016. He will continue the verbal assault and hope this will help him regain his ascendancy in the presidential race. In a way, his staunch critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, is right in describing this as a desperate move. Binay apparently thinks this would arrest the downslide in his rating.
I won’t say he is doing the correct thing. Only the results of the next Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys can say if his new strategy succeeded. (email@example.com)