EB: Those mysterious and controversial letters on a stone

Two letters, E and B, are bringing an interesting discussion into the Senate hearings on the alleged anomalies of Vice-President Jejomar Binay. They may have emerged from the legally unacceptable proposition of lawyer Senator Alan Peter Cayetano but they are certainly making the Senate inquiry more intriguing.

EB: Elenita Binay

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano believes that the “EB” on the boundary stone found in the property more popularly known in the media as “Hacienda Binay” represents the name of Vice-President Binay’s spouse, Elenita Binay. Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with pursuing the truth about the questionable Batangas property but for a lawyer, a senator at that, to impute intriguing details over haphazardly etched acronyms, Senator Cayetano is taking away some little parts of the credibility in the senate investigations.

Why should Senator Cayetano go that far? He’s only partly justifying the Binay camp’s allegations of “tall tales” in the senate inquiry. Linking Binay to the questionable Batangas property through an acronym etched on a boundary stone sounds childish or even inane for someone who passed the Bar. While it can be argued with numerous circumstantial and testimonial evidences that the Binay family owns the controversial property in Batangas, it sounds unbecoming for a lawyer to use a mere acronym as evidence of guilt.

The assumption is that Senator Cayetano and the rest of the Vice-President’s critics are simply trying to score an additional point in the court of public opinion. They certainly know how that EB on a stone cannot stand as evidence in a real court of law. It’s just being used to keep the Binay-bashing momentum going. It’s either this or “nakuryente lang si Senator Cayetano,” as explained in the succeeding paragraphs.

EB: Electric Box?

In an interview with ABS-CBN, embattled businessman Antonio Tiu claimed that EB stands for “Electric Box” and he had his own photos to show that that mohon or boundary stone was really an electric box. This can indeed be considered a point for Tiu and the Binays. It’s a small victory but it is giving Binay supporters something to hold on to as they continue defending the high-ranking official accused of various serious offenses.

On Twitter, many of Binay’s supporters were apparently making the most of this small victory. With tweets and retweets, many have been twitting Senator Cayetano’s goofy attempt to further link Binay to the Batangas property fondly referred to as “Hacienda Binay.” Some would taunt him: “nakuryente sa electric box ni Tiu.” He surely didn’t have to go that far. Almost everything presented in the Senate against Vice-President Binay was solidly incriminating or at least reputation-repressing enough. The testimony of his former ally carried some serious weight that can’t be easily shrugged off by a mere “politika lang yan” retort. Senator Cayetano’s blunder only served as additional ammunition to the infamous Binay text blasts and social media trolling.

Eat Bulaga

EB might as well stand for Eat Bulaga. This popular noontime show is occasionally (rarely) hosted by Senator Tito Sotto who happens to be a member of the UNA party of VP Binay. It also has Vic Sotto who was once romantically linked to Kris Aquino, who was romantically linked to the Vice-President’s son, Mayor Junjun Binay. Also, Eat Bulaga has been on the air for almost as long as the Binays have ruled Makati City. These are the types of connections you can compare the EB-Binay link with. The connections are possible but way too farfetched based on readily available “proofs.” They excite the public’s imagination but are invalid propositions.

On the other hand, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano made an “Eat Bulaga” moment with his lousy attempt to crack a joke during a senate hearing with businessman Antonio Tiu. He quipped: “Baka pwedeng itabi natin si Comm. Kim (Henares) itabi natin kay Tiu, para imbes na uminit ang ulo natin, Kim-Tiu ang makikita dito.” Cheap shot! There’s nothing funny in it but you can be sure many Binay and Tiu detractors were grinning over the unfunny remark, not necessarily for the joke but for the thought of bemocking someone perceived to be taking up the cudgels for Binay.

No, this is not to say Eat Bulaga isn’t funny and that it can be equated to a political circus. It has in its stable of hosts a plagiarizer, a father who allegedly abandoned his family, someone who was involved in a sex scandal with a dancer, a senior citizen who is in a relationship with a 25-year old, a tactless loudmouth who loves sowing intrigues, and a gang of non-veterans who are trying to learn the ropes, but at least they are not engaged in major roles in running the country’s affairs.

Eh Baluga

In the midst of his laudable efforts to pin VP Binay down, Senator Trillanes committed a gaffe with his kulay mahirap, asal mahirap” remark in an ABS-CBN interview. This expectedly caused a stir, one that makes sense. Why should skin color be equated to wrongdoing? Why should poverty become synonymous to the acts committed by Binay? Again, it’s additional ammunition to the arguments of Binay defenders and apologists. Why can’t our senators act in a manner befitting their supposedly honorable positions? In their attempts to appear more empathetic to the victims of corruption, they try to utter words that sound more relatable but they just lack the skill with words that they end up betraying their own (supposedly noble) intentions.

Epal Ba?

At least two well-known personalities were dragged to the Tiu-Binay-Hacienda controversy. One was obviously “umeepal” while the other was making an appeal but still with epal undertones. These are in addition to the epal antics of our senators who obviously love seeing their faces (or foreheads?) on TV.

Perennial politician-wannabe Richard Gomez was apparently offended when Senator Trillanes uttered the line “magaling ka magsinungaling, pwede ka mag-artista” and one tabloid made sure that his reaction was sensationalized by publishing the following headline: “Richard Bumula ang Bibig sa Sobrang Galit kay Trillanes.” It’s either Mr. Gomez is oversensitive or he just has very poor comprehension skills. What Senator Trillanes said does not translate to an insult to actors. To say that an expert liar can be a good actor does not infer that all actors are liars—unless Mr. Gomez seriously felt alluded to. It’s basic logic. Mr. Gomez can draw a Venn diagram to clearly see how he erred with his overreaction.

Meanwhile, anti-kidnapping advocate Teresita Ang-See also publicly expressed her disappointment after Senator Cayetano seemingly mentioned kidnapping in a light or humor-laced tone when he commented on how Tiu already exposed himself to possible kidnapping after he revealed his wealth in the senate just to prove that he really owns the controversial Batangas property linked with the Binays. There was nothing in Senator Cayetano’s statement that appeared to have encouraged the kidnapping of Tsinoys. It’s surprising to see how many newspapers and news websites were playing along Tiu’s allegation that Senator Cayetano was endangering the lives of Filipino-Chinese businessmen. You can see the actual exchange of words in this YouTube video. What Tiu said about “striking a deal with kidnappers because he can sell his shares of stocks” was hardly an inference of Senator Cayetano’s interrogation, regardless of how worked up he may have appeared.

Again, these are additional bullets for the Binay army of defenders and apologists. Interestingly, most of those sites that publish the story about the supposedly insensitive joke do not include a clip of the actual scene where the “joke” was mentioned. Most of them are Binay-leaning interpretations of what actually happened and perhaps even Mrs. Ang-See didn’t get to see the actual footage of what Senator Cayetano said.

This piece may sound like a defense for the embattled Vice-President but it certainly isn’t. This is simply an expression of disappointment over how people in government seem to find it very difficult to stand on a high moral ground when prosecuting misdeeds. Politicians have the tendency to play their opponents’ game and go as dirty as their powers can allow them. We believe it’s always better to be better than the person you criticize instead of simply presenting yourself as the “lesser evil.” Senators Trillanes and Cayetano are clearly demonstrating how political motivation and hidden agenda can be impaired even highly credible allegations of corruption. Former Chief Justice Corona’s removal from office by impeachment did not go down in history as a clear manifestation of justice as details of the DAP bribes were eventually revealed. If we want to see a high-ranking politician punished by the law without doubts written in the history books of the future, we have to learn to act according to laws and refuse to play the underhanded tactics fondly employed by traditional politicians.

Image capture via @ABSCBNNEWS on twitter. Some rights reserved.

Originally published on Blog Watch, Online Philippine Chronicles. Part 1 and Part 2