Finally, “Binay takes a swing at Aquino.” This is arguably the best thing that ever happened in recent Philippine political history. We expected it but not this soon, not earlier than the campaign period for the 2016 presidential elections. We couldn’t be any gladder to be wrong. This is going to be more than just fireworks for the Oktoberfest and the New Year celebrations. This is going to be war – and it’s a war that will benefit the Philippine political situation.
The Vice-President was invited to speak at the 5th MCLE (Mandatory Continuing Legal Education) Accredited National Convention of Public Attorneys where he appeared to have laid out the very high likelihood of parting ways with President Aquino. Binay uttered scathing remarks not only to defend himself but also to directly point out the alleged misgivings of Aquino. The 71-year-old politician who is more known for his stint as the mayor of Makati City criticized the Aquino government’s Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), this time not through his mouthpieces in UNA but straight from Binay’s mouth. He scored Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima over the intention to investigate him. Binay said that he won’t succumb to intimidation; the Justice Secretary aptly retorted: no such thing as immunity from investigation.
Vice President Binay was combative in his speech. He decried “selective justice,” particularly noting how Aquino refused to make DBM Secretary Abad, PNP Chief Purisima, and his other allies answer allegations hurled against them. As usual, Binay touted his “humble” beginnings and the times when he was fighting oppression. Likewise, he brought the tired and old “rule of law” argument as he said: “There were many instances that the law was broken, and I will not allow this.” Just like any other politician in a pinch, Binay commented that he couldn’t comprehend why the DOJ was prioritizing him in its investigation when it’s supposed to be busy dealing with the PDAF scam.
Violation of the Constitution “DURING My Term of Office” as VP
Emphatically, the Vice-President asserted that he could only be removed from office by impeachment for offenses committed during his term as the second highest official of the Republic. We don’t know who is advising him to come up with this kind of defense but we are certain that such defense is unintelligent, lame. So what if the allegations don’t relate to his position as VP? Is that an indirect admission? Is he saying that he can’t defend himself from the corruption and ill-gotten wealth allegations that he has to resort to such poor arguments? He is basically answering the “hacienda” and “Makati building overprice” allegations by these statements. Why can’t he just answer the allegations directly and squarely for his own good?
Interestingly, Binay’s bold statements at the PAO event was met with some rounds of applause even as one lawyer expressed disappointment in Binay candidly, eye-to-eye, right on the veep’s face. The Vice President should try emulating the candor, courage, and straightforwardness of the Cavite-based lawyer, Grace Crisostomo, in speaking her mind out. That’s how you act when you hide nothing, when you have no guilt, when you have no fear that the person you are criticizing will have something to turn the tables.
As reported in one TV news program, the Ombudsman already created a panel that would handle the investigation on the allegations against the Vice-President. The Bureau of Internal Revenue has likewise initiated investigations on the personalities involved in the alleged overpricing of the Makati Parking Building 2 and the recent revelations over “Hacienda Binay.” Naturally, Binay and UNA will think of this as a concerted effort by the Aquino administration to put him down. But who cares? There’s nothing to fear when there’s nothing to hide.
Binay Siding with Arroyo
In yet another “unsurprising surprise,” the trapo spirit is once more manifesting as the embattled Vice-President expressed some words of support for the former president who once tried to suspend him as Makati mayor. Binay somewhat ridiculously chided Aquino for “mistreating” former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, saying that she is no ordinary person, she is a female (kababaeng tao), and that she is sick to be refused bail and the opportunity to seek treatment abroad.
Such sudden empathy for a former political opponent can only be interpreted as a form of desperation. We can’t figure out Binay’s objective in suddenly becoming an Arroyo ally-of-sorts. If he wanted to win public sympathy, Arroyo is not a viable political figure to associate with as she has none of the loyalist crowds comparable to what Marcos and Erap have. Arroyo is overwhelmingly unpopular beyond Pampanga that the mere mention of her name will turn off potential sympathizers.
Vice President’s Impeachment
Plans to impeach VP Binay are already being floated. However, House Speaker Belmonte has expressed clear disinclination to tackle another impeachment. His reason: the House of Representatives has more important things to do. Yeah – just like the new insertion attempts in the national budget and the need to ensure that investigations in the House of Representatives and the Senate don’t decrease Aquino’s ratings any further.
We think impeachment against Binay would be good for the government. It can provide the right venue for Binay to answer all allegations against him and to test his theory that he can only be impeached over wrongdoings during his stint as VP. There’s still enough time to do it. The Liberal Party will likely push for it considering how Binay continues to lead presidential polls despite all the serious allegations he is facing. This is not to say, though, that those (Aquino allies) who will push for impeachment are the better party. We expect the Vice President’s team to come up with counter-allegations against Aquino and his allies to diminish the credibility to the impeachment attempt.
Why Nognog vs. Noynoy is Good
It’s important to create friction between President Aquino and his VP to prevent them from hiding the skeletons in each other’s closets. The argument that such political divisiveness can adversely affect the economy does not hold water. The Philippine economy hasn’t turned for the worse despite having the Aquino administration, not because of the Aquino’s administration. Aquino’s good governance campaign is mired by doubts and inconsistencies but it failed to overwhelm the positive outlook on the Philippines. Aquino failed in implementing infrastructural developments that can support the Philippine economy in the long term. Personality-based political turmoil is unlikely going to have any significant economic impact. It may even help improve politics in the Philippines.
A clash between Aquino and Binay will help expose all the hypocrisies and uncover serious misdeeds in both sides. We can’t wait to see Aquino badmouthing Binay in various public forums, to force the Vice-President to respond in whatever way he would deem adequate. Even indirect exchanges of attacks between Aquino and Binay would be good. It can crumble one of the major examples of politics of convenience in the country, cutting off the unscrupulous political ties conveniently maintained by top politicians for their own survival. Hopefully, it can also pave the way for the rise of a new group of politicians who can offer better options for the electorate.
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As originally posted in Blog Watch, Philippine Online Chronicles.