I will mention some names and see if you can remember them: Brigido “Jun” Simon Jr., Mario Raymundo, Dr. Tony Martinez, Rodolfo Valentino, Isidro Garcia, Mel Lopez, Ben Abalos and Ignacio “Toting” Bunye.
Your answer will be this. The last three are still familiar names. Lopez is chairman of a government oil company. Abalos figured in an infamous broadband scam and his son Benhur has been unbeatable in Mandaluyong politics. Bunye was Mrs. Arroyo’s one-time press secretary and recently ended a full term as a member of the Monetary Board. As to the rest, your answer will be this: Who are they?
All the names are bound by one thing. All of them were named OIC mayors of towns and cities in Metro Manila after the democratic restoration in 1986. Except for Ben Abalos, not one got elected to the full three terms allowed under the 1987 Constitution. Except for Abalos, who served three full terms and was named Comelec Chairman after, none was competitive enough in the rough and tumble world of Metro Manila politics.
Some of the OIC mayors had tragic stories—and careers. The late Dr. Tony Martinez, sitting as OIC Mayor of Caloocan City, was even soundly beaten by the Asistios in the 1988 mayoral elections, the first local election after the assumption to power of Cory Aquino. The “Cory Magic” failed to save him politically. Even Jun Simon, seen by the PDP-Laban as a young politician with so much promise, won a single term as Quezon City mayor, then faded into total anonymity.
Among the OICs named in 1986, Abalos has the distinction of having the second most successful political career. The most successful of the Cory Aquino OICs is the one who has dominated the headlines over the past few weeks, Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Of the more than a dozen Metro Manila mayors in 1986, it was Binay who have done all these things: crush the once- invincible Yabut political organization in Makati, consolidate his hold on power, and build a political dynasty out of that consolidated political power. While the winning ways and staying power of Benjamin Abalos was also impressive, he failed to scale the height of political power into which Mr. Binay’s career soared. Ben Abalos has forged a partnership, unbroken through years, with the late former Senate President Neptali Gonzales, the most famous son of Mandaluyong.
In contrast, Mr. Binay, after crushing the Yabut machine, was the sole and undisputed King of the country’s wealthiest city. He does not have, to share political power with anybody which is the case of Ben Abalos. Those who have crossed Mr. Binay’s path politically, whether these were old enemies or former allies who had decided they could take on the Binay machine, had been crushed, like the Yabuts, by the machine.
Not one political enemy is left standing. A son of the late Mayor Yabut is a city councilor, a small insignificant post probably tolerated by the Binay machine.
Mr. Binay’s son Junjun is Makati mayor. A daughter is a congresswoman and another daughter is a senator of the realm. No other political family in the country wields such immense political power.
Now this is the question uppermost in the minds of the country’s political junkies. Can Mr. Binay get past the test to his survival powers – the high profile Senate inquiry into the allegedly overpriced parking building in his city, called by some as the “Parkinggate”?
The point raised by the Binay camp is valid: politics is fueling the inquiry. After Mr. Binay soared in the presidential polls and is now the putative presidential frontrunner, those lagging in the polls did what they have to do, which was to launch a demolition job on Mr. Binay. But all is fair in love and war and in politics. And Mr. Binay knows this too well.
And you have to give it to those who are, covertly and overtly, behind the investigation. The overpricing case has been laid out well. There are real complainants. There are even metrics on building construction costs. The COA leadership has yet to stand by the findings of the resident COA auditors who green-lighted the construction of the parking building. The erstwhile ally of Mr. Binay turned bitter enemy, the former vice mayor, has ratted on Mr. Binay and his alleged “ commissions “ from construction projects.
The giddiness of at least three senators to pursue the inquiry shows that the inquiry was meant to inflict the most political harm on Mr. Binay. And scuttle his lead in the polls and his presidential dreams.
Can Mr. Binay, with his legendary survival instinct, and the first and without equal among the Cory Aquino OICs, summon the powers that made him crush the Yabut machine and then crush the his two popular opponents in the 2010 vice presidential polls? And beat this one last hurdle to his presidential dreams?
Or, would the inquiry waylay his perfectly-attainable dream of being the next president of our country?
Can his great victories in 1988 and 2010 get an encore and three-peat?
Or, would Parkinggate be his Waterloo?