• Binay vs Roxas: A class-war simulation


    President Aquino’s endorsement of Mar Roxas as his political heir and the Liberal Party’s candidate for the 2016 elections would really be his biggest gift to the nation, for a reason that I don’t think he can ever understand, or accept.

    The contest between Vice President Jejomar Binay and Manuel (“Mar”) Araneta Roxas II would be a simulation of a class war.

    With Aquino’s anointment of Roxas, Filipinos would be given a clear choice to make: whether to choose an executive of the elite, which has dominated the presidency since the Republic was set up, or a product of the middle-classes, which historically has been the class that takes up the cudgels for the working-masses.

    Marcos vs. Cojuangco-Aquino in 1985; Ramos vs. Santiago in 1992, Estrada vs. de Venecia in 1998; Arroyo vs. FPJ in 2004; Aquino vs Villar in 2010 — these contests didn’t present Filipinos with such a choice between leaders of distinctively different class origins.

    You can’t get a better embodiment of the Philippines’ enduring economic-political elite clans that originated during the country’s Spanish colonization than Roxas. He is the progeny of two Philippine ruling-class “noble” houses, if I may use that term: the Roxases and the Aranetas.

    The two clans descended from Basque adventurers who joined the Manila-Acapulco trade to eventually gobble up huge tracts of land to turn these into sugar haciendas, or into a huge central business district in Metro Manila. The names itself reflect the origins of their ancestors: “Araneta” means “abundance of space” in Basque while “Roxas,” a variation of Rojas, means “red,” which was a common family name in the region of Galicia-Asturias.

    In contrast, I haven’t read or heard of somebody named “Binay,” other than the Vice President and his family.

    Long-lost relatives, by any chance? Left, Indonesia’s Widodo; right, Philippines’ Binay

    Long-lost relatives, by any chance? Left, Indonesia’s Widodo; right, Philippines’ Binay

    “Binay” is in the genre of such family-names as Pabalinas, Erana, Tria, Anniban, Tabdi and those of the other 39 Special Action Force heroes with obscure names which you’d never hear as those of your friends.

    These lowly names are those of the great unwashed, Filipinos during Spanish times who lived so far away from the poblaciones, the centers of power and wealth that they couldn’t be reached by the friars who assigned names to the indios or allowed those they seduced (or raped) to use their names for their off-springs.

    Economic elite’s cadre

    While one of the most competent senators we ever had, Mar’s father Gerardo Roxas unmistakably was his economic-elite clan’s cadre in the political realm. That was a common practice of many of our richest families, notably the Lopezes and the Osmeñas in the era before martial law, and continued today by such tycoons as the Romualdezes and the Villars.

    Roxas grandfather Manuel, whom he wants to emulate, was the country’s president from 1946-1948, the period when the country’s ruling class recovered most of their wealth destroyed or sequestered by the Japanese occupiers.

    And reflecting the practice of the elite marrying only an elite, Roxas mother Judith Roxas is the eldest child of “Don” Amado and “Doña” Ester Araneta, who owned vast sugarcane lands in Negros island, one of the country’s biggest sugar mills. The clan, headed now by Judith, had diversified into property by buying in the 1950s a huge tract of land that would become the Araneta Complex, into mining (Atok Big Wedge), and into the fast-food business (Pizza Hut and Wendys).

    In sharp contrast, Binay’s father was a librarian in some forgotten public library in Batangas province, his mother a public-school teacher. Both died when Binay was nine, and adopted by an uncle, a lawyer in the Senate, who made him do the chores in the household, even requiring him to collect the slop (“kaning baboy”) in the neighborhood for his backyard piggery, a common source of income in that era even in urban neighborhoods.

    There is no question whom the traditional Spanish-descended and landed elites like the Ayalas and Lopezes would support: Roxas.

    The Philippine elites actually live in a very small world, unknown to us hoi polloi, and as far away as “Elysium” is in that sci-fi movie of that title.

    They even mostly live in one neighborhood in the Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village area. They are all mostly on a first-name basis and chance upon each other often in their country clubs, Manila Golf Club (for the golfers, and costing at least P40 million to get into), Manila Polo Club (for the tennis players, membership closed for years now), and maybe Tagaytay Highlands for the cool air.

    Most of the elite spend half of the year in their residences in New York, Los Angeles, London (allegedly the Ayala’s favorite homes), and starting only in the past decade in Shenzhen and Shanghai. For most of the elite,  the Philippines is just a market to make money in, not really their homes.

    I’m sure that isn’t Binay’s world. I don’t think he was even ever invited for lunch in those clubs during his years as Makati mayor. Roxas, as he himself told me once, almost spent every morning playing golf at Manila Golf Club when he resigned as Estrada’s trade and industry head in the months leading to his downfall in January 2001. Roxas without a shadow of a doubt is one of the Philippine elite’s, as Aquino is.

    Where were they during martial law?

    Where, and what were Roxas and Binay doing during the Marcos dictatorship are also in the sharpest contrast. Roxas was doing what his elite class was doing, and Binay was doing something else, of course.

    After finishing high school at the Ateneo de Manila in 1974, Roxas attended the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a degree in economics in 1979. For the rest of martial law, Roxas was making money for the American capitalists as an investment banker, becoming an assistant vice president of the New York-based Allen & Company, a small, privately held investment bank.

    At that time, Roxas was being groomed by his clan as its corporate CEO, while his younger brother Gerardo ‘Dinggoy’ Roxas, Jr. would be the politician.

    That plan fell through though, when Dinggoy died in 1993, and Roxas, as the only son was ordered by the matriarch Judith to return to the country, immediately and permanently. Roxas run unopposed in a special election that year,  to assume his brother’s post as congressman of the First District of Roxas City. That was the start of his political career. As early as that time, he started to dream — and plan — of becoming Philippine president, even organizing a think-tank to draft his program of government.

    While Roxas was in Wall Street planning mergers and acquisitions, Binay in the 1970s was in the thick of the political struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. He was with a group of idealistic lawyers such as Joker Arroyo and Rene Saguisag that provided free legal services to those imprisoned by the Marcos dictatorship — MABINI, or the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism. He himself was detained for four months by the Marcos regime, on charges of being a  “subversive.”

    Aquino and Roxas have been the favorites of two powerful media institutions owned by the elite, ABS-CBN, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, with the latter in fact having undertaken one of the most vicious character-assassination campaigns against a political personality in our modern history. If Binay wins, the hegemony of media controlled by the rich over the electoral process would be broken.

    Binay is of low or middle-class origins, and his rise to the political firmament has been a fluke. What if Cory’s political henchman, Aquilino Pimentel in 1986 had changed his mind and withdrew his offer for the human-rights lawyer Binay to be Makati officer-in-charge?

    While the Yellow Crowd — noisily by 1970s singer Jim Paredes, now an Aussie — claims Binay is just a traditional, corrupt politician, he has positioned himself as the working-class champion. Whether you believe that or not, you certainly can’t delete his class origins, which is in very sharp contrast to that of Roxas.

    The choice for voters really would be between somebody from the lower classes who might be corrupt on the one hand, and on the other, the Philippine elite’s man, a CEO who could be a good-hearted hacendero taking care of his serfs.

    The election next year would be a class-war simulation the likes of which we have never before seen.

    While the ruling class, almost by definition, usually gets to put their man in power, there are instances when it loses its hold on the nation’s highest post because of some unique conjunction of events and forces. For example, former Leftist guerrila Jose Mujica won by a slim margin in Uruguay’s 2009 elections as president.

    But perhaps Binay’s genre would be that of Indonesia’s president elected last year, Joko Widodo. In a Time article, former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz described him: “President Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, rose from humble origins to become a prosperous entrepreneur, the first Indonesian President ever to do so. He has been an accomplished mayor of Solo, his hometown, and of Jakarta, one of the world’s great megacities.”

    FB: Bobi Tiglao


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    1. Rosauro Feliciano on

      Corrupt people who became rich are the causes of why we have very poor people dwelling on street corners. Corrupt people are the kind of people who say contrary to what they are doing. Corrupt people are enemies of all truths, they are authors of Culture of Corruption.

    2. The choice of the country’s next president is not in our hands, Mr. Tiglao. No matter how much we rant and rave and fulminate against this Aquino administration’s ineptness, corruptness, bitchiness and all the negative “nesses,” the PCOS machines have already been programmed to do the honors of selecting another dolt for our next president–Mar Roxas, the doppelganger of the primus inter pares among the dolts of this God-forsaken country, BS Aquino.

    3. If Binay is as clean as Mr. Clean (literally & politically), no doubt he could easily win the presidency by landslide. I myself will vote for him. It so happen that he amassed an enormous, humongous, mountainous unexplained wealth ILLEGALLY that makes him as dirty as cockroaches in our kitchens. #JailBinay2015 #DU304President

    4. Without the rich people (elite) who are also employers, where can the many people get their job? Some elite honestly strived hard to become rich (the dream of everyone), but some people like Binay becomes so rich not by hard work but by illegal and corrupt practices, and he WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO…. with his soft stand on the issue with in the West Philippine Sea, expect Chinese elite to give billions for Binay’s campaign, and half of it will be deposited in his many bank accounts – Good & effortless money-making, win or lose!

      • Rosauro Feliciano on

        Yeah the VP Binay already signified his intention openly that when he will become the President of our country, the first thing he’ll do is to declare that the Philippines is agreement for Bilateral Negotiation with the Chinese Communist Government; and not only that, he will change our Constitution into in his words, Sawa Constitution so in this way he will always be in power. So naturally the Chinese super rich will support his candidacy with unlimited money to make sure the Binays will be in power.

      Zeroing in Roxas & Binay, aside from their family background, who is not tainted by corrupt practices & who rise from rug-to-riches through corrupt practices? Corrupt Binay is simply bad for the health of Philippine economy, and Philippines wil go backward…. simple as that Tiglao (the “loose-dog” of Binay-aran).

    6. Bert O. Romero on

      If ever the 2016 presidential elections become a class war – simulation , it will not be between the rich, represented by Roxas, and the poor, represented by Binay, but will be an intra- class war between the rich and the nouveau rich, symbolized by Roxas and Binay, respectively. Not by any stretch of imagination could one consider Binay as representing the poor and the underprivileged. Being the mayor of the richest city in the Philippines for more than 20 years has most definitely rubbed off on Binay and his family making them one of the wealthiest families not only in Makati but in the entire Philippines. Didn’t Binay recently say he and his family were merely creative and innovative than majority of Filipinos? Indeed, some Filipinos are smarter than others.
      Underprivileged and powerless? Tell that to the Marines, of which he claims to be one. With a wife who was mayor, a son who is the current mayor, a daughter who is a senator and another daughter who is a congresswoman ? I don’t know what powerless is.

      Indonesia’s Widodo is a true son of the poor. His relative wealth came from hard work exporting furniture. In short, there is legitimate provenance to his relative wealth. It is an insult to Widodo to compare him to Binay.

      • julieta M. prior on

        Yes, i agrees you cannot compare 2 persons with different character they may came from poor background but it depends on the quality of education, teaching, character , responsibility and the ability to control the power entrusted to them. People can judged rich and always on the side of the poor but believe me , am poor and happen to be lucky to lived in one of the richest community in the Philippines and with my own experienced they were the most behaved people, generous people i can imagine and the poor were the one who corrupt and steal all my wealth. Roxas will be the best President I will dream to win 2016

    7. This is good. I agree with this article. It’s like a battle between the elite and a rising name.

    8. I have notice that when 3 stooges of Mar Roxas in the senate tried to demolished VP Binay thru relentless investigation of the senate sub committee it was never heard inspite of the help of media blitz. But during the Yolanda aftermath the action of Mar Roxas against Mayor Romualdez in Tacloban were heard and registered in the minds of the people. Ricky Carandang failed miserably inspite of a good job of not landing in the front page. Even the caddy incident at Wackwack golf course became the talk of the town. Mar Roxas has the tendencies of self destruction like mismanagement of DOTC and DILG. His over eagerness to be in the front page became more destructive than constructive. He even overshadowed Gasmin and Dinky Soliman in all major disaster post and after operation. Yet no one ever recognized his effort but were considered epal in all his deeds. When his drumbeaters tried diverting the issues by hitting Binay thru the senate sub committee it was again Mar who took the beating. It would been better that Ricky Carandang to stop this foolish acts. People think these are diversionary tactics so that failure will never be remembered. Lumang style na ito Ricky isip ka naman ng bago.

    9. Vic Penetrante on

      Will there be an election in 2016, or will the election be postponed?
      “We cannot make decisions without consulting the stakeholders,” said the spokesman of the fiscal autonomous, constitutionally commissioned COMELEC. Only scheduled for tomorrow is the Comelec meeting with the Congressional oversight committee on ‘automated election system.’

    10. It is important to understand the problem of our country. It is Poverty!
      We need to elect a Leader that knows and understands this word and sometimes the better of them is one who experienced it himself.
      In this country, majority are the poor and middle class people. We can rise above this status by finding a leader from within and Binay has proven himself worthy to lead. He has walked the talk .
      Let us look at his Achievements and Strength to lead the Change this country needs!

    11. Teddy Sevilla on

      Binay will be elected by the vast majority of the Filipinos, which he calls ‘salaula’, as our next president. The problem is: Will he be able to rule? Estrada invoked the same rich-poor divide strategy to win. The Thaksins of Thailand did the same. We know what happened to them.

      If Binay wins it will usher in a new period of social instability. His image among the middle and elite classes is much too irrevocably damaged. He will attempt to use force thru the military or the mob, but, in all probability, he will fail. History will be repeated.

      • Finally a comment that is worth reading!!!!! This article is fucking stupid. That’s the problem with Philippine society today it’s ALWAYS about RICH VS. POOR!!!!! It’s even all over the soap operas and in politics! LMAO! Just because Binay grew up poor it doesn’t necessarily mean he would be the best candidate as President. Aquino had given the Philippines a spotlight and Filipinos are too blind to see it. Binay will fail at continuing this economic gains The Philippines have enjoyed over the passed years. I mean the guy is TOO BUSY criticizing the administration and won’t even face the raps against him. On top of that no one has a clue on how he would run the country. lol. Aquino didn’t succeed on all of his promises but you gotta admit he delivered a lot during his presidency and most importantly he instilled confidence in the country.

    12. Dear Mr. Tiglao,

      Class origin of the contenders (VP Binay and Sec Roxas), as you may very well know, does not necessary make the 2016 presidential election a class war — simulation or real. A man of humblest origins can lose his working class heart along the way as he aspires to count among the so-called socio-economic and political elites — ending up as a “traitor” to his plebeian class.

      It is the candidates’ platforms of government — policies, plans and programs, not their class origins, which will define whether one is pro-poor or otherwise. The class war, if ever there will be one, will be in the program of government — not in the color of skin or other shallow profiling of who is pro-poor or pro-elite.

    13. that’s BS
      ti’s a fight between two hypocrites
      ti’s a fight between two liars
      ti’s a fight between two trapos

      there are other choices

    14. Federico Lojo on

      VP Binay will win by landslide. The only problem I see is in the counting of the votes. It is in this aspect that the political elite is keeping their cards closed for their eyes only. People must take notice or their will be chaos.

      • Agree. The elections will be won by the computers, not by honest voting. As a once-upon-a-time NAMFREL volunteer in the 80s and 90s, it was relatively easy to spot if there was cheating or manipulation at the polls. NOt so with machine, which can be programmed ahead of the actual voting.

    15. “MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine average monthly wage of $279 (roughly Php 11,700) is only 19% of the world’s average as calculated by the International Labor Organization (ILO). The calculation placed the Philippines in the bottom 3 of the 72 listed countries, just above Pakistan and Tajikistan”

      The situation is even worse when you take out the average NCR salaries, which themselves are 4 times the average of the rest of the country, and which also highlights a second major failure in stemming the growing inequality between the capital and the rest of the country, the rich and the poor, and which also makes a mockery of pnoy aquino’s mantra of inclusive growth and improved benefits for all!

      The wealth gap in the philippines is now one of the worst in the world, and the worst in Asia, and there is a direct correlation of greater inequality leading to greater impunity, which in turn fuels corruption.

      There are few countries which practice class discrimination as much as the philippines, and which is engineered to maintain the rigid social structure, a low cost labor pool to supply big business, and desperate OFW’s who pump overseas money into the economy ( 30% of which goes to big property developers, 30% to commodities/monopolies, and 30% spent in malls/consumer items)

      Without unions, workers toil under bad management, short term contracts, and in a climate of fear. Modern day slavery.

      With no chance of enacting an anti-dynasty bil, the unholy trinity of oligarchs, dynasties, and corporate america has subjugated the masses to serfdom.

      The next step is outright surrender and a full dictatorship, which seems to be the current direction, since the past 5 years have seen institutions weakened, the executive controlling congress, and cabinet members acting with impunity, unmoved by the plight of fellow filipinos – but the divide is so wide that they no longer see themselves as filipinos, but a class apart.
      “I am a 1st world filipino” is their belief. How sickening, pretentious, and self-centered, and reflective of a deep malaise which permeates the corridors of power and upper eschelons of business. They are oblivious to the reality of the poverty outside the cocoon in which they live, and unconcerned at the despair of the “common people”, as they close their small minds to reality.

      Whilst the rest of the world embraces Diversity and Inclusion, the philippines remains exclusive and feudal.

      Whilst companies overseas empower workers and instil values of dignity and respect, the philippines continues to exploit and humiliate them.

      Being 1st world is not about the economy, but about values, principles, breaking down class structures through mobility and meritocracy.

      The philippines will not be 1st world for another 150 years since it still remains in a feudal time-warp from the 1800’s – especially since those with money have no class and no conception of noblesse oblige.

      The philippines needs to re-orientate its thinking, refocus its priorities, and re-structure its social foundations.

      Innovation through diversity
      Dignity through inclusion
      Growth through opportunity
      Respect through equality
      Progress through meritocracy
      Democracy through anti-dynasty
      Accountability through FoI
      Competitiveness through ASEAN
      Development through technology
      Professionalism through training
      Infrastructure through investment
      Employment through entrepreneurship
      Sustainability through manufacturing
      Strength through unity

    16. The true character of Roxas was manifested in Tacloban ‘Yolanda’ aftermath when he confronted the city mayor telling the latter ‘bahala kayo sa buhay nyo’.

      • Tama ka kaibigan. For Roxas, being a Romualdez at that time was a curse. He does not really care about the plight of the people. Whether you live or die, that’s the least of his problem. For him, “if you’re not one of us”, tough luck for you. “Romualdez ka, Aquino ang presidente” (to that effect), you do the math and figure out yourself.

    17. jesus nazario on

      Ergo, the choice should be clear for 99% of the some 56 million voters next year. The President for the great unwashed or that for the elite. A no-brainer choice really. BUT something else makes the choice in the end. An inanimate object called Smartmatic PCOS unless said 99% STOPS it with finality on its track of deceit !

      Thanks and more power Bobbi for this incisive take on a looming social simulation.

    18. P.Akialamiro on

      Between Binay and Roxas, I can sleep well by not voting one for President for the first time!

    19. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      04 August 2015

      I sincerely compliment former Ambassador ROBERTO D. TIGLAO for his highly enlightening column, “Binay-Roxas: A class-war simulation,” in the Manila Times of August 4th.

      I do hope that many Filipinos, those in the middle classes in particular, get a chance to read and absorb this rare Essay which clearly and I think thoroughly illumines the identities of the members of the PLUTOCRACY as well as the members of the HOI POLLOI.

      It is this Plutocracy which in conspiracy with the traditional Politicos [most of whom are in the pockets of the plutocrats] and the Clerics [the Roman Catholic Church] has held the Philippines in its vise-like grip since “independence” in 1946, whose overarching Agenda is to perpetuate itself in wealth and power, the better to manipulate and exploit the Filipino people.

      President Benigno Aquino, a certified member of that Plutocracy, has just anointed MAR ROXAS, another conspicuous member of the same Plutocracy, as his personal choice as candidate for President of the Liberal Party–overtly for Mar Roxas, as President, to continue what he [self-servingly] claims as his successful “Daang Matuwid” anti-corruption drive, and also to continue to push his anti-Poverty program [formerly the CCT] which now sports a new name, ASAPP.

      It is very likely that UNA’s JEJOMAR BINAY wlll be pitted against Mar Roxas in the presidential elections next year. As columnist Rigoberto D. Tiglao clearly points out, Jejomar Binay represents the HOI POLLOI of Philippine society.

      And so the upcoming presidential contest will have the flavor of a CLASS WAR, as Ambassador Tiglao so succinctly puts it.

      From my perspective, MAR ROXAS suffers from a weakness both as a politician and as an Administrator. Politics and administration [as Secretary of the DILG] obviously are not his strong suit. He must feel more “at home” as the CEO of a financial company. In contrast, JEJOMAR BINAY, has been more than adequately tested as a Politician, in particular as the long-time Mayor of Makati City, where he proved himself an exceptionally competent Administrator. That explains why Mr. Binay won handily over Mar Roxas in the vice-presidential elections of 2010 where Mar Roxas was the running mate of Benigno Aquino.

      The next time these two fight it out again, this time for the Presidency next year, there is a very good chance that JEJOMAR BINAY will give Mar Roxas another “licking.”


      • Justaskingseriously on

        Are you saying that the clerics in the catholic church have political power since “independence” in 1946? Or are you referring to the “hold” the church has because of moral power? But your context as is the context in this column is “political” power. Can you blame the church for holding to its teachings and striving to be faithful to its mission? Can you blame the individual believer? Ultimately, does the church teach corruption? Does the church force the faithful to vote like bobotantes? It is good to refrain from generalizations that sweep across the various realms of power. Or it is better to stick to political considerations to avoid dissipating your thought process. Aha, but there is a group whose ministers make the followers vote as a block. That is political power. That is a vise-like grip. You do not see the catholic church and the clerics doing that. Human dignity cannot be sacrificed for political expediency. The clerics in the catholic church teach so.

      • Charlie Taquio on

        Just can’t seem to understand how some people fail to see the glaring, obvious and plain to see true character of a TRAPO. Could be some people are just too dumb and lack the ability to discern and judge a congenital master manipulator.
        If only voters would dedicate a few period of their time to consider studying the lives of candidates …much better if way back in 1986 … that was where everything begun…

    20. Efren H. Castro on

      What is wrong with being an elite? Isn’t that the ambition of every man, to rise above his class. Reduced to its raw meaning, elite is being rich. Granting all allegations and all the buzz were correct, Binay is part of the elite. He is rich beyond reckoning and beyond visible means.

    21. Indeed, Jojo knows the sentiments of the people being one of their class. Senyor Kho Rheena would never understand the pain of the daily commuters of the MRT/LRT. How I wish those who claim to be do-gooders would understand that there is never a government in the world that has no “corruption” – corruption being endemic in a capitalist society, politics being just a tool in the service of the ruling class to protect their business interests. How I wish the younger generation can read Philippine Society and Revolution and understand the structure of Philippine society and find some more ideas from the book, Democratic Revolution.

    22. You have to hand it to Rigoberto to resort back to class-based Marxist analysis after embracing it years ago, when he was a leftist youth then rejecting it in his middle age. (Why do so many of them follow the same arc, swinging from extreme left to the right? – Magno, Barican, Cristobal, Olivar, )

      The fatal flaw in his forced dichotomy of rich vs poor? It presumes that the poor always has moral ascendancy due to its deprived situation. It exempts them from accountability and integrity issues, which Binay is now facing.

      The re-frame is integrity vs lack of it, not rich vs poor.

    23. Felimon A. Soria on

      The only problem with your comparison between the two, Mr. Tiglao is that Binay is accused of amassing billions of pesos while in office and even able to finance highly coveted offices of his son and two daughters. Whereas Mar Roxas has not been accused of anything. As a physician who grew up like the way you describe the vice president, I admire and inspire me wealthy families whose children goes to Ivy leagues in the United States or to London’s Oxford

      • like boy sisi, boy pickup has not been accused of stealing people’s money but due to their myopic eyes, their KKKs are doing the stealing. even they themselves did not steal, it is still corruption, is it not? have you not heard of the schemes at the DOTC??? mrt-lrt mismanagement leading to breaking up of the maintenance contract ang awarding these to cronies? proof- former gm now find himself in a bind with the ombudsman. lucky for boy pickup’s man at the dotc the ombudsman is a loyal yellow cultist. further the anomalies in the Land Transportation Office, etc. while at DILG, anomalous purchases of guns and patrol jeeps for the police and firetrucks.