Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Political machinations

This is my column today, October 21, 2014.


The President confirmed yesterday that he did assure Vice President Jejomar Binay, in their closed-door meeting held last week, that the government would be fair in the handling of the investigations being made to look into allegations that Binay pocketed money from various government projects while he was still Mayor of Makati and that he owned a sprawling hacienda in Batangas.  In return, the Vice President was supposed to have promised to continue being an administration ally until the end of this administration’s term in 2016.  As can be expected, people are making personal inferences to what happened last week based on subjective agenda.  There are those who insist that the President’s pronouncements was really neither here nor there and indicated being noncommital.  Others insist that the meeting between the top two officials of the land last week was a reaffirmation of the personal relationship between the two – in short, the equivalent of a peace pact.
Last I looked, people still couldn’t agree on a universal definition of what constitutes fairness so I expect a hell lot of nitpicking on subsequent actions from Malacanan Palace or from the Department of Justice.
But I highly doubt if the investigations on Binay’s alleged many sins would now be dropped, or at least toned down.  First of all, the allegations that have been made against Binay are monstrously huge to be dropped easily without arousing suspicion or creating a backlash.  I am afraid the movement is too far gone to be diffused easily.  The investigations have to continue; otherwise, certain people will definitely lose face. 
Second, I seriously doubt if the matter is within the President’s control, assuming for the sake of argument that he does want to spare Binay for personal or political reasons.  If we are to believe the scuttlebutt, certain powerful factions that walk the corridors of power have on several occasions already sent word that they will resign in masse if the President interferes in certain “advocacies” that they are pushing.  In short, the power trenches have already been dug. 
Besides, a presidential intervention on something that has aroused people’s curiosity would seriously weaken the administration’s moral authority at this point.  As it is, the perception that the administration is being selective in its pursuit of a clean and honest government has already gained traction on account of the fact that political allies continue to enjoy the President’s vote of confidence despite public outcry.
Anyone who thinks that the demolition job on Binay is the handiwork of just two senators is hopelessly being na├»ve.  The notion that the political factions who stand to gain from the murder of Binay’s presidential ambition are mere passive observers to the public spectacle, is at best, laughable.  Of course, certain quarters stand to gain from Binay’s fall from grace.  Of course there are political machinations behind the demolition job.  Decapitating the front-runner in the 2016 presidential race is the best way to advance the fortunes of a candidate who has already been declared as non-winnable.  And then there is the scenario of not having suitable candidates at all, thereby making it easier to sell the idea of a second presidential term.
The nobility in the motivations of certain quarters who are pushing to reveal the truth about Binay cannot be ignored.  We cannot afford to have another president with a serious image problem; nor could we afford to have a leader that would be spending his whole term of office fending off allegations of shady and corrupt deals, or worse, defending himself every year from an impeachment complaint.  Binay just has to answer the allegations squarely.
While I do agree that the overzealousness of certain senators is suspect and that there must be a better way to conduct senate investigations – in particular, in the way witnesses are presented, it must also be stressed that the Vice President is not entirely without resources or connections to defend himself.  For example, it seems like a sad reflection of the abilities of his children – in particular, Senator Nancy Binay and Representative Abigail Binay – that they have not been able to effectively neutralize the smear campaign against their father, or their family.  Perhaps there is really truth to the claim that they lack the necessary gravitas required ordinarily of others not belonging to political dynasties. 
Everything that we are witnessing today is linked to 2016.  What is disheartening to note is that out options seem to be limited to a shortlist produced by political machinations.

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