A DAY after his resignation, Mr. Binay did not go to his Batangas farm to relax and smell his flowers. He urgently reassumed the persona he took during the many coups against Mrs. Aquino in the late 80s – that of a raging Rambotito, a fighting man. If he swore to fight to the death to prevent coup plotters from seizing state power from Cory Aquino then, this time it was different.
Now, he is up against the administration of Mrs. Aquino’s son, the incumbent president He called Mr. Aquino’s administration an administration of bunglers and cynical people, largely insensitive to the plight of the common man. Mr. Binay let loose just after his resignation from the Aquino cabinet these words: I will start the fight for the common man and against poverty. I am not afraid of you (the generic Aquino people) and nobody can stop me.
Just to heap the harshest of ridicule on the administration people who are polling so poorly in the presidential polls, Mr. Binay said no one can stop him from his presidential candidacy and his ascent to the presidency. He dismissed the corruption charges against him and his family as baseless.
By doing so, he openly dared the Aquino administration to charge him and jail him like three opposition leaders – Johnny Enrile, Bong Revilla and Jingoy Estrada.
With the political lines now clearly demarcated, and with Mr. Binay declaring his open break with the Aquino the 2nd administration, there is nothing much to explain and divine on. Let the political wars begin, challenged Mr. Binay.
Again, the only question that needs to be pondered upon is this: Will the Aquino enforcers, from Ms. De Lima et al, start the process which would eventually lead to the jailing of Mr. Binay, his wife and his mayor son Junjun? This is a very valid and urgent question to ask because of many reasons.
The Aquino enforcers have institutional experience on this one. They have jailed a former president, a former senate president and the Number One and Number 2 in a senatorial election. They successfully laid down the A to Z of a parliamentary battle that led to the impeachment of an incumbent chief justice of the Supreme Court. Many a political warlords, given so much leeway and power during previous administrations, have been rendered wimps by the trigger-happy enforcers of Mr. Aquino. They have never been gun-shy in going after political enemies of Mr. Aquino, whether perceived or real. Erap, take note of this, was stripped of his swagger.
In the area of silencing critics and political dissent, Mr. Marcos pales in comparison with Mr. Aquino.
So, will they jail Mr. Binay now that he has declared himself as a foe and a fiery critic?
There are only two probable answers to this question. They will think long and hard before starting the process of jailing Mr. Binay, his wife and his mayor son. Or, they will just leave Mr. Binay and his family alone. Untouched, so Mr. Binay can pursue his presidential ambition in peace. The trigger-happy enforcers of Mr. Aquino will be restrained, reined in and controlled by so many factors.
The first reason is lack of material time.
The rule of law does not provide for an instant, overnight jailing of political critics, even if these critics were suspects in acts of massive corruption or even plunder. There is a process and no one is presumed guilty unless the official crimes shall have been proven beyond reasonable doubt and by the proper bodies. Juxtapose this prerequisite of the judicial process with the term of Mr. Aquino, which is barely one year. The enforcers of Mr. Aquino simply do not have the luxury of time .
They cannot rush the process, unless they want the Philippines under Mr. Aquino to be perceived as a brutal country with Kangaroo courts.
The second is the fear of the scenario that would unfold in case the trigger-happy minions of Mr. Aquino would arbitrarily start the process of jailing Mr. Binay.
Mr. Binay , before he became wealthy and powerful, was a dissident. The late Mesyong Prudente and Vladi Sampang – if only we can ask them to testify from the Great Beyond – can testify to this. He was part of the anti-Marcos movement that fought the dictator long and hard. Unlike his detractors, whose exalted perches in life have been handed down to them as if they were birthrights, Mr. Binay had to literally claw his way into wealth and power. He had to earn everything he had, including his pedicures.
Mr. Binay will not take a jail threat siting down. His mass followers can paralyze EDSA. His political allies would then, after the mass protests, elevate the fight of his life at the level of Congress or even, would you believe, at the cabinet or sub-cabinet level.
Mr. Aquino would not want that unsettling in his last year in office. That he is not a popular leader, that he has no personal bond with the people, that his acclaim ends with the Davos-Makati crowd are fear factors that would curb the enthusiasm of the Mr. Aquino to go all-out in the prosecution of Mr. Binay. What if the masa marching on Mr. Binay’s behalf would rock and unsettle the busy financial district and storm the glass towers that Mr. Aquino is so fond of inaugurating?
The third? Mr. Aquino would not go for broke for his chosen presidential candidates. He can read the figures on public mood and sentiment. A tainted and soiled Mr. Binay would easily beat his chosen in a fair fight, with plenty to spare.