Sunday, September 07, 2014

Yet another soap opera


This is my column today, September 7, 2014.
Any attempt to expose corruption and to break political dynasties should be a welcome event in this country.  However, we wish the ones who spearhead such efforts bother to learn from the lessons of the past so we do not keep repeating the mistakes and we actually get to accomplish something.
There are a number of things that are obviously wrong in the way the ongoing investigation into the alleged corrupt practices of the Binay dynasty in the City of Makati is being conducted.  And because of these, we can already safely predict the outcome of all the current exertions:  Nada, zilch, nothing.  Once people have become exhausted with the exchange of accusations and once media have directed the attention somewhere else, the investigation will fizzle out.  Vice President Jejomar Binay’s quest for the presidency will regain zest and who knows, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Binay might end up as the tandem to beat in 2016.
The fact that the investigation is being conducted by two senators who have already publicly expressed their intention to challenge Vice President Jejomar Binay for the top post in the country in 2016 is jarring. 
I agree that political motivation should not be a ground to derail inquiries into possibly corrupt deals or practices.  However,  investigations do begin to resemble a lynching when being actively spearheaded by the same people who stand to benefit from the fall from grace of the subject of the effort.  Given our soft spot for underdogs, the whole thing may even boomerang.  Had the investigation been championed by the likes of, say, Senator Teofisto Guingona III, or say Senator Ralph Recto, or others who have not yet thrown their hat into the presidential derby, there might be a greater chance of derailing Binay’s momentum.  As it is, it is difficult not to imagine a thought bubble on top of Cayetano or Senator Antonio Trillanes’ head that says “I am the better choice for President” everytime their constipated faces are shown on television grilling a witness.
Let’s face it, those who are against the Binays and who have already decided that they are the worst kind of politicians on the face of the planet do not need the Senate investigation; they have already made up their minds a long time ago and they will most likely stick to their guns.  Those who are vociferously supportive of the Binays will continue to vote for the Binays regardless of the volume of dirt that Cayetano and Trillanes successfully uncover in the ongoing senate investigation.  The allegations of corruption against the Binays have been there eversince Jejomar Binay transitioned from being a street parliamentarian civil rights activist to a politician. That, however, has not stopped the ordinary citizens of Makati from solidly entrenching him at the City Hall, or for that matter, the Filipino people from giving him an overwhelming mandate as the second highest official of the land in 2010.
The investigation should matter to those who stand in between the divide.  The consequence of the unfortunate partisanship in the ongoing Senate investigation is that it gives the Binays and their supporters a valid justification to quash the accusations with very generic rebuttals.  The people who, theoretically, should be the target of the ongoing Senate investigation – the voters who remain impartial or still undecided on whom to support in 2016 – can be swayed to ignore the accusations precisely because there is reason to accuse Cayetano and Trillanes of vested interest.  In an ideal world, other senators should have already stepped in and taken up the cudgels because darn in, what is at stake is the country’s prospects beyond 2016.  Sadly, many of them are wisely keeping to the sidelines because of the real possibility that Binay will become President in 2016. 
And then there is the matter of witnesses that are unable to present hard facts as evidence.  We already suspect that the darn building is overpriced.  There is no need for further speculative drivel - what we need is for someone to produce the smoking gun.  Unfortunately, no one is doing that.  The line of people with a gripe to tell and yet another accusation to make do well in making our blood boil, but does not really prove guilt, darn it.  
To make matters worst, there are the subplots and the diversions.  The issue about the price and the source of the birthday cakes for senior citizens in Makati makes for very good reading, but where the heck is the proof that would prove Senator Nancy Binay is lying? 
I know. There will be people who, upon reading this piece, will automatically conclude that I am a paid hack taking up the cudgels for the Binays.  These are the trolls who think hating the Binays is enough.  Unfortunately, hate alone will not stop the Binays from perpetuating their political dynasty.  What is needed is concerted action from various stakeholders, strategic thinking from those spearheading the effort, and hard work from everyone; three things that are sorely lacking in the current investigation.  Thus, it will not come as a surprise if nothing comes out of this current political soap opera.

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