Binay’s Achilles’ heel

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

Young Jejomar Binay

Young Jejomar Binay

Up until a few months ago, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Cabauatan Binay Sr. was on top of the world. He was untouchable and invincible. He probably thought that he was second only to the Holy Family. Perhaps he was ordained to holiness – or greatness — at birth when his parents named him “Jejomar,” a contraption of the names Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. Indeed, Jejomar seemed to have possessed an “agimat” – amulet – that gave him mystical powers, and kept him out of harm’s way… until now. Then the whole world turned upside down. He was no longer untouchable or invincible. His agimat must have worn off.

But agimat or no agimat, what happened to Binay was unavoidable. The moment he declared his candidacy for president in 2016, all guns were trained on him. And within two months his popularity ratings plummeted 10% in surveys. Such sudden drop in his popularity ratings indicates that Binay – who had enjoyed “very high” marks in popularity since he was elected vice-president – has one vulnerability; that is, he may not be the “Mr. Clean” that he claims to be.

Binay with Cory Aquino during the EDSA Revolution

Binay with Cory Aquino during the EDSA Revolution

As salvo after salvo from his accusers hit him, he might turn out to be the most corrupt public official since the late dictator, Ferdinand E. Marcos. But the difference is that no past president before him had been accused of massive corruption before assuming the presidency.  In the case of Binay, all these allegations of corruption happened within a span of three decades, from the time the late President Cory Aquino appointed him Mayor of Makati City after Mayor Nemesio I. Yabut died while in office during the EDSA “People Power” Revolution. Since then, Binay, his wife Elenita, and son Junjun held power over one of the richest – if not the richest – city governments in the country.

Can of worms

Lord-of-Makati.2In March 2001, the first exposé of corruption against the Binays surfaced. Investigative journalist Miriam Grace A. Go published a detailed account of questionable properties allegedly acquired by the Binays. Titled “Lord of Makati,” it said: “In less than a decade, Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay, former chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and former mayor of Makati, accumulated at least P80 million worth of real estate properties in Makati and Batangas, which he kept undeclared, our investigation shows. The amount excludes P12 million in declared investments, as well as other businesses that he and his friends reportedly control through dummy corporations.”

But his agimat must have been working for him then. All he did was deny those allegations, and zingo! his problems went away. Since then, “denial” had become an effective modus operandi to deal with allegations of corruption. In fact, his mastery of the art of denial has become legendary in political circles.

Indeed, it didn’t matter what allegations – ghost employees, overpriced equipment and supplies, kickbacks on projects and purchases, and grease money extorted from businessmen – were hurled at him during elections; all he had to do was deny, deny, and deny. He was so good at it that he could wring himself free from any situation and come out of it fresh and unblemished. That was then.

Don Michael Corleone

Don Michael Corleone

Now, that Binay is running for President, he’s faced with the biggest challenge in his political life. And guess what his first campaign promise was? He vowed to continue President Aquino’s anti-corruption drive. Whoa! That would be like Don Michael Corleone promising the American voters that if they elected him President, he’d stop organized crime in America. Surmise it to say, the difference between organized crime in America and institutionalized corruption in the Philippines is in form only, but the substance is the same — it’s all about money. Yes, dirty money.

He also promised to continue the “daang matuwid” (straight path) that Aquino started. Makes one wonder what “daang matuwid” really means to him. As the recent Pork Barrel scam and questionable Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) turned out to be, “daang matuwid” seemed to project the notion that the shortest distance between a politician’s pockets and his secret bank accounts is a straight path. With the Philippines’ strict secret bank deposit laws, corrupt officials, gambling lords, vice lords, and those involved in illicit trades, hiding their loot in Philippine banks is safer than depositing them in Swiss banks. Indeed, corrupt officials need not leave the country to stash their ill-gotten wealth; they can just go to their local banks and deposit it.

“Invisible exodus”

Binay Dynasty

Binay Dynasty

Many believe that if Binay were elected President, it would be “business as usual” for a lot of politicians. Sensing that Binay appears to be unbeatable, politicians of various stripes began jumping into the Binay bandwagon. A recent news report said: “At least 48 of the 120-member Liberal Party have so far trooped to Vice President Jejomar Binay’s camp to signify their intention to back his presidential bid, in the process defecting and abandoning Interior Secretary Mar Roxas II, the LP’s presumptive standard bearer. The ‘inevitable exodus’ was disclosed during the news conference of the members of the House Independent Minority Bloc.”

In my article, “Balimbing Republic revisited” (December 3, 2014), I wrote: “With the 2016 presidential elections fast approaching, political realignments are beginning to change the political landscape of the country. New faces replace old faces. But don’t take oldies for granted. They have a trove of election tricks.

“The question is: Is Vice President Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay, an ‘oldie’ favorite, going to be the next president, or are the people going to go with a new face in the arena like Sen. Grace Poe?”

The Grace factor

Grace Poe

Grace Poe

Although Poe denied any ambitions to run for higher office in 2016, many believe that her decision is not set in stone. Surveys show that Poe is only 10% behind Binay. With a year and half away from Election Day, Poe’s popularity ratings would rise the moment she enters the presidential derby.

If there was one opponent that Binay is scared to face, it’s Poe. It is no wonder then that Binay’s camp has been trying hard to convince Poe to run as Binay’s vice-presidential running mate. If she accepts the offer, a Binay-Poe tandem would be unbeatable.

But why would Poe team up with someone who is tarnished with corruption charges? However, if Poe runs for President, it would give the voters a choice. And with Binay’s Achilles’ heel exposed in the open, he needs a more powerful agimat and lots of prayer to beat Poe.

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


8 Responses. Have your say.

  1. pat talens says:

    Very well articulated article on Jejomar Binay.

    This man is not the long awaited savior to remedy the country’s societal corruptions, pervasive social and economic woes—especially accelerating growth in criminalities and poverty. He is the wrong man to become the new Leader of the Filipino people. Forefront among the reasons, Binay is absent of moral standing. And for him to become President, the country will have another President without moral standing to govern, which will only usher in more moral, social, and economic upheavals—as the country’s titular head is corrupt and its subject citizens only are poised to imitate.

    Grace Poe is a welcome addition in the national political limelight, and as a ray of hope in the country’s well-clouded landscape of many woes. But I now view Senator Trillanes as the better person to succeed PNoy. And Grace Poe to become his Vice-President (and President later). I could be too off into the future, but my argument is that these two are the “fresh new breeze and new breeds” of political leaders long awaited and long due to transform the country from the abyss of deep multi-faceted national problems.

    Trillanes is the complete opposite of Binay. He is that silent, unspoken genuine definition of a hero in a place where true heroes are truly hard to find. I can not be wrong but this man is ever ready to martyr himself on behalf of his country—unlike those so many whose self-interest is their paragon interest.

    For now, Senator Trillanes is assured of his role and part in national prominence in the annals of Philippine history. And it good ways, at the vey least. If the people awake, the Presidency is within his grasp—not only for the good of the people in the islands, but for me and for million others in diaspora abroad, as well.

    • philip says:

      Right on, Pat Talens! The true heir of Ninoy
      II’s political legacy is not PeNoy III, it is Sonny Trillanes IV. Both spent many years in jail because of their patriotic bent. PeNoy is a weakling not fit for leadership and only swept to power at the coattails of their name.

      To me, Sonny is a combination of Ninoy and My Guy (remember him?). He is ready to die for his country just like Ninoy and is a born honest leader like Magsaysay who even as a mere junior officer, he had generals as followers. I’m not sure if he ever was a Boy Scout but he is a believer of the Scout Law and the PMA motto, unlike the 20-year BSP president who fails the first test of being trustworthy.

      I fully concur with your dream tandem of Sonny/Grace, both fresh faces who are non-trapos but darlings of the thinking un-bribable voters. Never forget that Sonny was elected senator without campaigning as he was then incarcerated. And the new superstar is Grace who topped the last elections as a neophyte. Both are untainted by graft and will put the people over their pockets.

      As for Susmaryosep, he is overqualified to be president because of his riches. Presidents before him, even Marcos, enriched themselves while in office but Binay is already rich beyond measure while only a mayor. He also already has a dynasty ready to rule the Phl like they did with Makati. But his aspiring FL is too ugly to represent the country.

      Trillanes/Poe now and Poe/Cayetano next time!
      Pat, let’s hope more Pinoys think like you and me!

      • Greg says:

        Are you sure trillanes is brave enough to die for his country? He backdown when comfronted by GMA during his coup. Do you know why he was called by Enrile as traitor to this country. Just asking…

  2. Guy Camacho says:

    Perry,
    Take note that Binay declared his presidential candidacy even in 2009 going into the 2010 elections. Then he settled to be the runningmate of Erap. After all Binay owes Erap his appointment as MMDA chair in 1998.
    I think when wife Elenita, upon becoming mayor, was so embroiled in corruption herself, that was the point where serious doubts about Binay’s honesty started to crop up.
    On the other hand, when he, Enrile and Erap formed UNA going into the 2013 senatorial race, people were still accepting Binay as a constructive opposition, as he claimed to be. After all, at that point Enrile was still riding high after the impeachment of Corona.
    The reversal point was the disclosure of the Napoles Scam, wherein Enrile and Jinggoy, along with Bong Revilla, were disclosed as the biggest culprits in the scam.
    With the indictment of the 3 pork-senators, the opportunity and timing for Ernesto Mercado to bare what he, and his co-whistle blowers knew of Binay, presented itself.
    I believe the ‘project’ to disclose Binay’s heel, as you call it, was hatched a long time ago, but it had to wait for the proper timing. I suspect it was the late Nelson Morales, the erstwhile right-hand man of Binay who disclosed the corruption at Makati to the ‘those’ on the side of Tuwid na Daan. I wouldn’t rule out that Morales confided to the late DILG Sec Jesse Robredo, a fellow Bicolano. Unfortunately, or questionably, Morales’ assassination is still unsolved.
    At any rate, with Enrile and Jinggoy already ‘prejudged’ guilty of plunder by public opinion, the horror of a Binay presidency is compounded with the presumption that his cohorts in UNA when convicted will be pardoned by Binay. Even GMA and all those who will support him in 2016 will eventually go scot-free.
    I believe the realization that Binay will wipe out the gains of Tuwid na Daan is the other Achilles Heel, i.e. on the other foot of Binay.
    The intelligent voter will go for Binay’s Archilles heels. The problem now lies on the fanaticism of the so-called ‘bobotantes’.

    • pat talens says:

      Guy, very informative post you have given. From your perspective, I bolster my position that Senator Trillanes needs to elevate to the Presidency to lead the war against many powerful corrupt political and military/PNP leaders who stand as leading purveyors of moray decay to the fabric of Phiippine society.

      Binay, Enrile, Revilla, the Estrada’s are sample powerful political icons whose corruption investigations, and final judicial actions can only happen when you have a very principled, patriotic, and courageous President—such when Trillanes becomes that President.

  3. Vicky Garchitorena says:

    It is also not true at all that Binay made Makati what it is. As everyone knows, Makati was already the premium city before Binay even became Mayor in 1986. Makati was the vision of Col. Joseph McMicking which the Zobels continued, built on, and modernized from generation to generation. In fact, a very large part of what Makati is known for is within the Central Business District (CBD)which has been constantly refreshed and redeveloped by Ayala Corporation and Ayala Land in coordination with MACEA, an association of all the companies and businesses in the CBD. For example, the underpasses and pedestrian overpasses were primarily funded by MACEA. So Binay cannot say that what he has done in Makati he will do for the country.

  4. Phil ESguerra says:

    Perry,

    Thank you for touching on some of the most important legal tools used by the corrupt to steal and hide their loot – Bank Secrecy Law and Dollar Deposit Law- which are remnants of the Marcos dynasty to hide their illegally-gotten wealth.

    Binay and his family would not have been able to hide his stolen wealth for this long if the anti-corruption tools like the bank and dollar secrecy laws are repealed, and the Freedom of Information Bill, is the law of the land.

    I am convinced that Pinoy Aquino is the country’s best hope to be able to repeal these laws. But it seems the repeal of such laws, and passing the FOI Bill, are not in his priorities list before he leaves office in less than 2 years

    If he fails to institutionalize these changes before his term ends, it will be “Bye-Bye Daang Matuwid. Nice try. Those were excitingt 6 years. Now you can resume your usual corrupt behaviour”

    Tsk.. Tsk.. Ningas-kugon.

  5. Bobby Bagos says:

    Do you folks really think that things are going to get any better in our country? I guess there’s nothing wrong with throwing in your two cents worth of expertise and opinion on this subject but that’s about all you folks can do. Corrupt politicians will continue to dominate our country’s political arena because our clueless kababayans wants it that way and with our inefficient justice system, our country isn’t going anywhere.

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