• Jejomar Binay: echoes of Caesar and Hamlet


    These past weeks I have been badgered by friends on why I have refrained from commenting on the relentless persecution of Vice-President Jejomar (Jesus, Jose, Maria) Binay in the Senate and the media.

    I could not say outright that I did not have anything  yet – no solid piece of  research and no interesting insights–to offer on the subject. I  only had random pickings from gossip and sensational media reports — and an instinctive sympathy for Binay as a member of my post-war generation, his small-town background and his underdog status.

    This reticence has now materially changed with the discovery by some intrepid journalists that there is a full-blown conspiracy to assassinate him politically, that there are oligarchs funding the plot, and that President Aquino may have given this contract his blessing.

    Above all, the picture changed for me when I saw – like a bulb flashing – that there are two Shakespearean dramas being played out in the Vice-President’s ordeal: Julius Caesar and Hamlet.

    Assassination  in the Senate

    What’s happening to Binay in the Philippine Senate hearings looks like an  elaborate restaging of Julius Caesar’s assassination in the Roman Senate.

    As most will remember, Brutus, Cassius, and other senators brutally ganged up on Caesar and knifed him to death. Mark Anthony rose from the tragedy to avenge him and become a Roman consul in his own right.

    In this Filipino version, the villainous senators are Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes, and Koko Pimentel, who all take turns stabbing Binay. Senate President Franklin Drilon assists them by allowing the slaying to happen on his turf. Witnesses are paraded in the Senate ostensibly  to show the extent of Binay’s betrayal of public trusts. TV networks televise the hearings live.

    From a distance, watching merrily are the masterminds – the Zamora brothers and a certain Eric Gutierrez, who, according to Jojo Robles, are funding the enterprise, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, who stands to benefit from Binay’s political demise.

    There’s a lot of buzz that this drama won’t be taking place without President Aquino’s blessing. There’s much anxiety in the Palace that Binay might be unstoppable in 2016 unless cut down to size.

    One line from Julius Caesar is most fitting for this adaptation:

    “Men at some time are masters of their fates…

    Cowards die many times before their deaths.”

    In the Shakespearean tale, the conspirators meet their comeuppance by falling on their sword.

    Let us watch and see how this real-life drama will be resolved.

    A Filipino Hamlet in politics

    The other play that is being incarnated is Hamlet.

    This tragedy of a prince who is torn between avenging his father’s murder and giving way to madness, and ends up dead because of indecision, finds a mirror in Binay’s inability to decide whether to break away from the Aquino administration, or to become the leader of the political opposition.

    His irresolution is frittering away his early lead in opinion polls of the presidential race in 2016. It gives ammunition to opponents that he has plenty of skeletons in his closet which he fears may be exposed by an administration that will stop at nothing to crush its enemies.

    Binay sentimentalizes that he owes to President Cory Aquino the start of his political career and that he therefore cannot be a political opponent of her son.

    Supporters and media analysts, on the other hand, believe that Binay has to wean himself from the Yellow manger to prove that he’s ready to lead the country.

    Without the courage of his convictions and a serious program of governance, the presidential opportunity will pass him by.

    History on Binay’s side

    If Binay’s presidential dream is trapped in its own cocoon, it would be a terrible irony, because Philippine political history points to a high percentage of our vice-presidents becoming president themselves.

    Our first constitution, the Malolos Constitution, did not provide for an office of the Vice-President. The 1935 Constitution, which set the recovery of Philippine independence in 1946, created the twin office of President and Vice President.

    Since 1935, the Philippines has elected 12 vice presidents. Vice president Jejomar Binay is the 13th in the line. He would be the 15th if Fernando Lopez is counted three times because he was elected to three separate terms, once as vice president to President Quirino in 1953, and twice as vice president to President Marcos in 1965 and 1969.

    Of the 13 personages to grace the office, six  went on to become president, four by outright succession (Sergio Osmena, 1941; Elpidio Quirino, 1946; Carlos P. Garcia, 1957, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, 2001), and two by winning a presidential term in their own right (Diosdado Macapagal, 1961; Joseph Estrada, 1998).

    The following VPs did not reach the highest office of the land:
    Fernando Lopez – did not run for president, despite serving three terms.

    2. Emmanuel Pelaez—term expired in 1965, did not run for president

    3. Salvador Laurel— term expired in 1992, did not run for president

    4. Teofisto Guingona – term expired in 2004, did not run for president

    5. Noli de Castro—term expired in 2010, did not run for president
    A relationship of mistrust

    In a famous essay for Atlantic magazine, “Is the Vice president necessary?”, the American historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. ruefully observed:

    “It is a doomed office. No President and Vice President have trusted each other since Jackson and Van Buren. Mistrust is inherent in the relationship. The Vice President has only one serious thing to do: that is, to wait around for the President to die. This is hardly the basis for cordial and enduring friendships. Presidents see Vice Presidents as death’s-heads at the feast, intolerable reminders of their own mortality. Vice Presidents, when they are men of ambition, suffer, consciously or unconsciously, the obverse emotion.”

    So in the end, the vice president is in John N. Garner’s classic formulation, “a spare tire on the automobile of government.”

    In one sense, it seems like destiny for the vice-president to succeed to the presidency.

    In another sense, it seems not destiny at all, because the highest office within the gift of the people ought to be earned at the ballot box, not inherited.

    Jejomar Binay clearly wants to win the office on his own. He declared his candidacy for president, on the day he was sworn in as vice-president.

    But there is a determined gang of conspirators out to ambush him.

    Hamlet said: “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

    “To be” should be VP Binay’s answer. Or there is no tomorrow.


    Please follow our commenting guidelines.


    1. Yen, don’t be disheartened by negative comments on your attempts to present to our people views that might not be palatable to their journalistic taste. On my part, what I see is what different writers do is give the people to reflect and finally draw their own conclusion. It is still a blessing that to this day, media is not gagged and we are free to speak up our mind. Go ahead, Yen, your pen will not run dry because prayers daily rises to heaven, asking that “yours and all good writers ever be endowed with passion for the truth – the truth and nothing but the truth.

    2. What I don’t understand is almost all writers in this newspaper is trying to cover up all the allegations against VP Binay. Why o why? Tama ang sabi ng iba me presyo ang bawa’t isa. Instead they should advise VP Binay to answer all the allegations against him and let the people see and hear it squarely from the VP itself. If some sectors of the media is trying to cover up the issue as VP Binay is doing now then, our country is doomed for the worst. Politicians stealing from us Filipinos. We know very well that majority of the voters in our country doesn’t have the sane mind to understand if what’s happening in our country. Nakakalungkot tingnan na yung mga magnanakaw eh patuloy na nagnanakaw at ayaw ibulgar ng mga karamihan sa media kasi naambunan ika nga. Masakit tanggapin ang katotohanan pero ito ang nangyayari.

    3. The Shakespearean analogy of events of Hamlet and Ancient Rome politics of Juliius Caesar and Mark Anthony have no bearing or comparison at all to the events of putting Binay and his Family thru a needle hole of scrutiny to test BINAY’s personal character and values and competence to lead the nation as President for the general welfare and good of the people. Binay has declared his clear and loud intention to run for the Presidency right after swearing as VP. As such, the people’s interest to know Binay more, his political passion, program of govt. and his character and values has been arouse and now being scrutinized and put to the test. Binay won the vice presidency in 2010 when the Class D and E voted for him on his slogan of “GANYAN Kami Sa Makati”, which means: free hospital and medicines, free education, more schoolhouses , and more cakes for seniors. In his 2010 run, the corruption overpricing of Makati buildings and his Hacienda Binay or unexplained wealth were not brought up as a character issue. Now that his closest associates have expose Binay and family of pervasive corruptions during Binay, his wife and son Jun Jun, all been Mayor of Makati, this big revelation and expose brought to public attention and keen scrutiny of Binay moral character and competence to be transparent and honest as President. The Senate hearing is doing a great service to the people by providing an open and revealing information on BINAY’s character and his family’s participation in the corrupt activities in overpricing in Makati building construction and supplies procurement (like hospital equipments etc.). The witnesses who testified in the Senate sounds credible and had direct personal knowledge of BINAY’s alleged corrupt activities in Makati government, being all closest associates and people of Binay for long years. True or not, the people, the investigative media have the duty to evaluate the value of the accusations as they impact on BINAY’s moral…

    4. Yen, according to Brutus, Caesar’s assassin, he slew him on account of Julius’s ambition. Ergo, Binay is politically being assassinated for the selfsame reason. In a word, Binay proves to be an insurmountable obstruction to the plan of those whose ambition is to run for the presidency come 2016. “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, whose is the handsomest hombre of all?” In my opinion, Yen, si Duterte pa rin!

    5. I am still that 74 year old man who believes and admire journalists who are fearless, honest and balanced. For this reason I was tempted to write the “Pteamble of the 1987
      Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines= Preamble: “We the sovereign Filipino people imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society and establisha government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations. Promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony and secure to ourselves and our ,posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under
      the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality and peace
      do ordain and promulgate this constitution.”
      Preamble pa lamang ay tunay na tayong lahat ay napaalalahanang mabuti upang
      maging matibay ang ating paniniwala at pagsunod sa Saligang Batas na naitatag
      sa biyaya ng Diyos.

    6. Chess_is_the_best on

      An article that does not have substance.As one here told,your article diverts and evades the true issue. Same as Binay’s defense.

    7. Cayetano and Trilanes had dug their own grave. Nognog B. is loyal to Aquino clan than to Filipinos. Anyone who will protect BS Aquino is dead meat in 2016. The players are all garbage now. No more salvation from the people for all of them had revealed their true colors.
      A knight on top of Mandarin horse is watching from mountain peak. Ready to charge by surprise when the time is come. Binay demise is useful only so that citizens will not demand, “Aquino, Resign”….. Binay and Aquino is one political body and soul.

    8. Why are VP Binay’s misdeeds, if we can call them that, being hurled against him and paraded out to the public just now, by his his accusers? Why, why, only now that he made open his decision to run for the presidency? His virulent accuser: his former vice mayor; his senators-investigator: the three-some of Trillanes, P.A. Cayetano, and Pimentel who are nourishing the ambition to run for President (kuno). To my mind, what is going on is a kind of disservice to our people who, more than ever, has the right to be properly and truthfully informed so as to be able to make thee proper choice on who to vote for come election day. Our politics is gravely deseased and, all you (senathieves and tongressmen) know nothing but be to us, despicable “quack doctors”! O Lord, come to our assistance! Amen.

    9. Florentina Barroga-Hayes on

      The country should applaud Senators Pimentel, Cayetano and Trillanes for having the guts to investigate government officials who “take” people’s money for greed. These senators are the generation of Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Manuel L. Quezon and all bayanis. Ceasar is greek, Hamlet is English. They don’t belong to our history.

      Keep it up, gentlemen. You are the new generation to get rid of greedy and dishonest politicians. Mabuhay!

    10. I already said this in response to one of your writers but let me say it again: there are signs a coup has taken place in the Liberal Party and that as far as 2016 is concerned, BS is no longer calling the shots. He has been reduced to merely defending Binay with words of support but the demolition job on Binay that includes even de Lima shows that he can’t back up his words with action, which is the usual with this pathetically incapable fellow. If indeed Binay was his real candidate then that option is totally closed by now. BS knows that the Roxas faction knows all the secrets and that a calculated leak will not only send his image into a tailspin but crush his overblown ego as well. Its time for you guys there in the Manila Times to look for another candidate. From black swan to lame duck is the real story here.

    11. This article assume that Binay is innocent and a victim of injustice. Well, Binay refuse to participate with the on-going hearing of corruption done in Makati and therefore, refuse to clear his name. If indeed Binay has not done corruption, it would be very easy for him to prove his innocense. Otherwise, his public denial without justification of the claimed overpricing of projects is a common reply of a thief (hindi ako magnanakaw) and Yen Makabenta is just another dreamer obsessed with Shakespearean dramas with a hero of questionable background named Binay.

    12. I am a 74 year old man and I admire journalist who are fearless, honest and balanced.
      In my long years of reading and analyzing commentaries I have made my own conclusion that there are only two kinds of journalists and nobody can dispute that because I will not allow it.
      These are the two kinds of journalists: ONE THAT BUILDS and ONE THAT DESTROYS
      I am sure you know where you belong. Don’t you?

    13. So, Dustin says an investigation on Binay is a matter of course. What about investigating PNoy for a much worse level of corruption he is involved in? Squandering peoples’ money to serve his purposes? What hypocrisy!

    14. Joaquin Fernandez on

      This is a ridiculous article written by someone who wants to look “cute” but either does not understand Hamlet and Julius Caesar plays by Shakespeare or just out to fool his audience. His comparison is off the mark. The only acceptable parallel is the site of the play, Roman Senate. Everything else is out of line. Binay can never be a Julius Caesar, a noble statesmen with plenty of accomplishments under his belt, Binay none. Caesar was assassinated in the senate by rebellious senators led by Marcus Brutus. To say that the investigation is an assassination could come only from the min of an avid supporter who chose to ignore the glaring information on graft and corruption and hoping he benefits at the expense of the nation. Now, the play Hamlet which was mentioned by this author is a revenge story of Prince Hamlet whose father was assassinated by his uncle Claudius, thereafter assumed the throne of Denmark, marrying his mother Gertrude in the process. There is not even an iota of similarity in here but the author chose to include this story in order to impress those who do not know the plays. Sorry, Mr. Makabenta, “hindi bumenta” your story. You may be able to fool some but just to tell you that your gimmick is not just cheap to the lowest degree, it is fallacious and deceiving. Anyway your style could fit that of VP Binay’s cabinet if and when he assumed office (hopefully in NBP).

    15. As a journalist, you should insist on truth. Tell Binay to answer the issues and not add to obfuscation. “conspiracy?”. Give us a break.

    16. Politics is a matter of public perception. Binay cannot wiggle out of this rut until he controverts the allegations which are increasing in numbers and the magnitude of the sleaze. I think the fight is brought to the court of public opinion, not the courts. If remain unanswered, it will have a telling effect on how the public perceives him, and sadly before the 2016 elections heat up.

    17. It is the most stupid thing to compare the fate of Binay. It is like apple and orange. They’re simply not comparable. Firstly,Binay is VP whilst Julius Ceasar was emperor and dictator. His many titles and honors from the Senate were ultimately merely that, honorary. Caesar continually strove for more power to govern, with as little dependence as possible on honorary titles or Senate. The placating ennobling of Caesar did not allay ultimate confrontation, as the Senate was still the authority, granting to Caesar his titles. Formal power resided in them, in tension with Caesar.
      Caesar have different power, roles and status. Second, our senators are no liberators, they are simply asking the VP to explain his properties in Rosario, Batangas and the over price Makati Building.
      Why distort the whole issue and the truth?. This is one and seem problem with our journalism in PH . Writer thinks that readers are stupid and they’re not. Most of them are brighter than the writers who are mostly from tradional and generation x.

    18. The problem with analogy or parallelism is that invariably it will fail to fully illustrate its relevance to the issue being addressed. As historian James McPherson once said analogy is a flawed tool in explaining historical events. Julius Caesar was physically assassinated in the senate because as reigning Roman first consul, he served to stymie the political ambitions of those who wished to replace him as such. And Julius Caesar was a very popular consul and the plotters were forced to resort to assassination to get rid of him. VP Binay is not the president of the Philippines – in the bureaucratic lingo, he is a spare tire waiting for the president to burst and flatten – and if there is a plot in the senate to get rid of anybody, the target should be the president or the reigning first consul. The allegations hurled against VP Binay and his family involve systematic, institionalized, and family corruption: charges which continue to make inroads in the value system of the Filipino and are dear to his heart. Most definitely these accusations, if unrebutted, will be crucial issues in 2016. Re Hamlet. VP Binay’s dilemma is not whether to abandon Pinoy: the current Noy-Bi informal arrangement benefits Binay more than it does Pinoy. At the very least being the housing tsar and the protector of OFWs enable VP Binay to scour the country sides and foreign shores using government funds. And most definitely, he visits these places not as a simple tourist. No Sir. His paralysis by indecision pertains to whether to appear before the senate or not. He seems content addressing crowds like the Boy Scouts, PAO, MABINI, FLAG lawyers, selected sister-city officials and monthly Alpha Phi Omega meetings. He prefers preaching to the already converted who have no recourse to cross examination and whose reach is limited unlike the nationally televised and radio- covered senate sub-committee hearings. I hope it’s not late yet for VP Binay to reconsider his present not- to-be stance.

    19. Who among Cayetano, Trillanes and Pimentel will say: ” . . . but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.”?

    20. Good analysis if you’re rooting for Binay. Trash if you’re an Aquino fan. One thing sure is this article will not please everybody.

    21. Mas mabuti kung ang “daang matuwid” na kampanya ni Pnoy ay ipinatutupad ng pantay at hindi lamang para sa mga ka-contra sa politika. Tandaan, lintik lamang ang walang ganti.

    22. You wrote a very thought provoking article. Describing the Senate’s 3 person investigation, on Binay, as a restaging of Julius Caesar’s assassination in the Roman Senate is very clear. Now I ask, who would want to go to a Senate investigation where they are trying to kill you?

    23. victor m. hernandez on

      I suppose Journalism has many facets: to report facts; to analyze what’s happening; or make an opinion. Subjects are chosen one at a time, or with other subjects, which makes writing about it more complex. I guess the present essay is an analysis by way of analogy on how the VP will respond to his current predicament.
      Well, I agree that the accusation against the VP should be brought to the court of law, and not at the Senate committee hearing, that is, in aid of political assasination of Binay’s ambition for the presidency. And, yes, Sec. Delima’s initiative to investigate all the allegation of corruption against the VP is the proper way to do it towards an eventually Court hearing, once a probable cause is determined. Abangan.

    24. So to me it seems you are only interested in this because now you think pnoy is involved in it. Its so strange how you talk about shakespear & hamlet & blah blah blah, but what you dont do is address any of the issues. I couldnt care less about conspiricies or theories right now, what is important is are these accusations true. You dont even look to answer that question. You are trying to guide the people away from possible truth. There is no doubt in my mind that an investigation should be done as de lima is doing. Now if they find he is totally innocent of these crimes then you go after these people who went after binay. But tio ignore & divert from the issues as binay & his cohorts & now you have all done & are still doing makes me think you would turn a blind eye if your friends were involved in corruption or if you saw it ( as you have ) as a way to get a pnoy.

      • Delilah sold Samson for a box od silver coins, Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver and both were tag by the king and high priests respectively as ” EVERYBODY HAS A PRICE ON HIS HEAD “.
        This apply also to LOCAL MEDIA in the Philippines who was tag by NEWSWEEK as ” AC-DC ” Attack Collect and Depend Collect.
        What happened 20,000 and 10,000 years ago is still true today ” EVERYBODY HAS A PRICE ON HIS HEAD ” so you can expect media to be bias, Di Ba Dustin?

      • I agree, this should be the proper way to do it. so De Lima is in the right direction. If Binay seems to be worried and afraid then that is a sign of guilt. if he is guilty then the least is he should return all the stolen wealth to the masses for education, healthcare, and job creation.

        Just my 5 centavos kasama.

    25. The court and not the senate is the right place to answer all these allegations. I do not blame VP Binay for not submitting himself to this senate investigation that is clear as daylight that is intended to humiliate him. Those who wish to know the truth, convince your senators to stop this non sense and just file the appropriate case against Binay. Only by that way you can force him to tell the truth.

      • We cannot immediately know the truth in courts because of so many legalistic loopholes and litigation tactics. You see, the Binays had been charged in courts already since Gloria’s time but up to now no resolution yet of their cases. Binay is way ahead in survey of all possible aspirants and it is critically important to know his integrity. If not then there will be chance future President Binay will continue his old ways since Makati days. Sure, he can perform more than inept Aquino but what about the allegations of greed that some of his former Makati lieutenants are throwing at him?

      • The COURT, what court? it can be a basketball court where they dribble and pass the ball, or a tennis court where the volley and smash the ball, or what you mean a court of law in the Philippines where dead witnesses and persons who expect justice dies in vain, The senate is a political venue where politicians play their game, people needs to know the truth, to the corrupt and guilty it can be a bad dream, it can be a place of shame and destruction of a political career, but as long you are clean, it can be a glorifying honor to stand and face the world.

    26. What a piece of journalist you are, after a long time watching what’s going on, you came up with this! Journalism is dead if not has been dead in the Philippines.

    27. As a journalist you should try to help find the truth about this allege corruption. Unless, you have something to hide, or you have a personal agenda.

    28. Muriel, I AGREE WITH YOU 100%. The only thing that matters in this case is if he is guilty or not. Nothing else.

      • The answer will be in eternity. After 2016, all media will forget what’s it all about. Binay is impeachable official that can not be charge in court unless impeached.
        If Binay is impeached then WhaDaPak how come the 150 billion DAP robber was not impeach. Mockery of impeachment justice.

      • di po ba ang mga kandidato sa presidente noong 1992 ay sina ramos, mitra, at santiago kung hindi ako nagkakamali? meron pa palang iba?

    29. Binay is the one only can answer the accusation that being thrown at him. By the way history judge him like his afraid to face off with people whom he work with whom they know each other secret very well. If you have nothing to hide or to cover -up, then why his not willing to face them, and sent them to jail, aid or not aid legislation is not important, but the real mettle test here is the purity, integrity of Mr. Binay people know the truth just like PNOY said the truth will set us free. As a people we want to know if Binay really obtained his property legally or illegally. Silence means yes, that he has hidden wealth using a dummy. The voters want to know before 2016 if Binay can be trusted with people money. Since not only Makati but this is 7,100 island.

    30. muriel magtanggol is right. binay should refute the charges of stealing governments
      money. where did he got his riches? believable explanations. anybody can just say
      i did not get or steal any public money. the public wants proof.

    31. Binay is no Ceasar and he is hardly Hamlet.

      Why don’t you write about the benign paralysis of MABINI about the current issue of corruption against Binay. After all Binay was one of their own. Or has MABINI lost its patriotic fervor.

    32. muriel magtanggol on

      Why and who are doing these do not matter. What matters is, did Binay steal or not? People have the right to know!

      • Yes. We, the people have the right to know the truth about the allegations of corruption hurled at Binay. That’s more important because it is the people will suffer if we elect again a president who has a history of greed.