I don’t have a single shred of doubt that Vice President Jejomar Binay is by far the most qualified candidate to be the President of the Republic.
I value the fact that early in his professional life, Binay demonstrated concern for his fellow Filipinos. He had the courage to resist Martial Law when it was imposed in 1972, and provided legal services for anti-dictatorship activists, becoming himself a political prisoner. That is a mark of character. Can any of his rivals claim to have even the slightest concern for their fellow Filipinos in their youth? He has several decades of experience in running a major modern city, and has broadened his perspective working as vice president.
Binay’s world is of the poor and the lower-middle class, not only because of his background but also because of his constituents as Makati City mayor. Grace Poe’s world is that of rich actors and actresses, which obviously made her proficient in acting presidential. Manuel Roxas 2nd’s world is of the country’ richest, the privileged elite. Rodrigo Duterte’s real world is confusing, as he boasts he grew up in the streets of Davao’s toughest neighborhood, which he claims is the reason for his foul mouth and even for his rape joke.
I’m sure that you would also think that Binay is a shoo-in for the presidency, if not for a conspiracy in the past three years that demonstrate how unscrupulous and unjust the regime of President Aquino has been.
One of the biggest broadsheets in the country, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, undertook a massive three-year campaign to portray Binay as corrupt. Accusations against him were not just positioned on the front-page. These were the newspaper’s banner stories, and the vice president’s denials and even the utter debunking of his accusations, were buried in the inside pages. In the newspaper’s 44 issues from Oct. 8 to Nov. 20, 2015, PDI had 29 banner stories on the allegations against Binay, all of which were later debunked.
Even as late as March, the PDI persisted in its black propaganda in a banner story that tried to link Binay with the money-remittance company Philrem, which was involved in the laundering of Bangladesh central bank’s money. The story was totally baseless but the Inquirer never ran a retraction. (I have written very detailed accounts of the Inquirer’s coverage that represent the worst of journalism in our time, among them: “Inquirer’s brazen hatchet job vs Binay, a disgrace to journalism” March 17, 2016; “A travesty of journalism,” Oct. 10, 2014; and “Inquirer vs Binay,” Jan. 16, 2015)
I have never seen any media outlet exploited to the hilt to ruthlessly portray a government official as corrupt, except of course in the Inquirer and Aquino’s persecution of Chief Justice Renato Corona for the purpose of removing him from office.
People, of course, do not get their ideas from nowhere, nor even from their peers, in this case, the corrupt tag Binay found difficult to shed would be entirely due to the Inquirer, Aquino-Roxas and Cayetano-Pimentel’s intense black propaganda campaign against him.
The campaign was part of a plot by President Aquino and his candidate Manuel Roxas, launched in 2012, to paint Binay as corrupt as possible to deny him all chances of winning the presidency. After all, it was Binay to whom Roxas – Aquino and his Yellow Party’s only possible candidate – lost in the 2010 elections for the vice presidential post.
Aquino and Roxas’ plot, though, backfired.
With the dent on Binay’s integrity that came as a result of the Aquino-Roxas-Inquirer plot and the reality that the Yellow Party wouldn’t be given another mandate by the people because of its gargantuan failures, the cabals of other political and economic elite saw an opportunity for them to win in this 2016 edition of the Philippine game of thrones.
Joseph Estrada and his old Chinese-Filipino gang of businessmen, whose manok FPJ lost in the 2004 elections, fielded the actor’s adopted daughter, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, who didn’t really care at all about the Philippines that she and her family had once abandoned the country and become US citizens.
Alan Peter Cayetano and Aquilino Pimentel 3rd were zealous in persecuting Binay in the Blue Ribbon Committee not because they were agents of Aquino, as their other vitriolic colleague, Antonio Trillanes 4th, was. It was because even at that time, they had hatched their plan to field, backed up by Mindanao oligarchs with whom Pimentel was closely associated, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and saw that their candidate’s real competitor was not Roxas but Binay.
The poet Robert Burns’ immortal words, “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men, often go awry, and leave us nought but grief and pain,” is so applicable, indeed, to the Aquino-Roxas plot.
Binay’s rise in popularity ratings was, indeed, stopped, because of their intense black propaganda against him, with the Inquirer’s help. But then instead of Roxas, it was Poe who led the surveys, followed by Binay (Roxas’ ratings were at the basement).
When Duterte joined the contest, despite his illness, tapped into the basest instincts of the masses (Kill! Kill the tribe’s enemies!), and let loose people’s anger against the hacendero President and his heir-apparent, Roxas’ candidacy was doomed.
In a more mature society, and with more responsible elites, Poe’s and Duterte’s candidacies would have been immediately struck down, even ridiculed.
How could somebody who repudiated her citizenship in a nation to become a US citizen, think she could be President of that nation she abjured, by simply signing a paper saying she had become a Filipino citizen again? Only if one is a “Poe” – the daughter of the movie hero Panday, who exploits the masses’ confusion over cinema and reality.
Duterte, on the other hand, isn’t really a citizen of this Republic, or any civilized nation, as he openly – boasts, really – rejects this nation’s basic values of reverence for human life and adherence to due process.
Roxas is the Dr. Frankenstein that created the Duterte monster.
Duterte’s main, over-arching message is that crime is the country’s biggest problem and he boasts of Davao City as his Exhibit A to show he can eradicate crime. That this message has resonated with many Filipinos is due to the fact that Aquino’s main official in charge of containing crime, his Interior and Local Government Secretary Roxas 2nd, has totally failed in this most important aspect of his job. Instead, Roxas has focused his energies on plotting against Binay, and on ensuring that local governments have the money to support him in today’s elections.
As interior secretary, Roxas actually is chairman of the National Police Commission that oversees the Philippine National Police, the force designed and authorized to fight crime. Roxas has done absolutely nothing in undertaking steps to contain rampant crime in the country, and instead, has been in total denial that the crime situation has worsened. Even one of the worst Presidents we’ve had, Estrada, had enough sense to put priority on fighting crime during his term.
Duterte’s solution, to kill all criminals as they are found, is a small-town mayor’s perspective, due to utter ignorance. It is utterly wrong, and proven empirically.
Countries with the worst crime situations are both the poorest and without institutions that are efficient, corrupt-free, and well paid police force and legal systems, such as Ethiopia, Somalia, and Uganda and other countries in Eastern Africa.
Roxas boasts of his 23 years of experience in government, and of his education. But Roxas already has proven that he has fatal character flaws that he can’t lead this nation.
He could have made a mark – enough for his landslide victory – if he had, instead, focused on making the MRT-3 efficient. He didn’t, and the daily commute to work for millions of commuters in the metropolis has become a hell.
Nobody can really point to any worthwhile achievement to his credit in the last six years, during which he had tremendous influence even on the President.
Roxas’ defining moment was on Jan. 25, 2015, when 44 Special Action Forces of the PNP – which is under his authority – were massacred one-by-one in the span of a day. By his own admission, Roxas knew early in the morning that day, when only three of the SAF had been killed (because of booby-traps surrounding their target Marwan’s hut), that the troops were in big trouble as not only the MILF but other armed Moro bandits had surrounded them.
Roxas was with Aquino and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin the whole day in Zamboanga City. Did Roxas do anything to save his troops, such as telling Aquino to his face: “Mr. President, we have to save our troops and stop this charade of inspection in Zamboanga City”?
By his own admission, Roxas did nothing to save the SAF troops. And people still think he should be President? Roxas has been tested for his leadership, and he has failed, or as that Filipino cliché would put it: “Tinimbang siya ngunit kulang.”
A useful analogy
Look, one way for you to shed your biases and rationally consider who might be the best President for the country is to imagine the task as similar to choosing the contractor (or architect) for a house you are building, or renovating. It is not such a far-fetched analogy, as the President’s responsibility would be not just to fight crime, but also to build a nation and its institutions, infinitely more complex in structure than a physical house.
One contractor, the most fluent in Filipino and English among those applying has totally no experience at all, and really fresh from the US, but is comely-looking, looks sincere, and promises a good job. That is Poe-Llamanzares
Another contractor boasts of a good house he has built in his own province. But strangely he tells you nothing but that he would eradicate all the mice and termites in the house, and make sure it is burglarproof, which he says are the most important things for a house. That is Duterte.
Another contractor boasts of the many houses he has built. You check it out and find out he did a lousy job in all these. Strangely, though, he keeps bad-mouthing another contractor, and claims that the contractor overpriced the house he built. That is Roxas.
The last contractor boasts of a house you can very easily inspect, and ask the owner if he is satisfied, who will say he is. That is Binay.