The close advisers of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the putative front runner in the 2016 presidential race, have been mostly drawn from the camps of three former presidents: Marcos, Estrada and Mrs. Arroyo. If you say that is a good thing and a positive one , and it would add to the intellectual and moral heft of Mr. Binay, I would not even know how to answer back.
Sure, Joey Salgado, who trained under the late journalism great Joe Burgos, is with Mr. Binay. But Joey’s role is crafting words and media strategy, not on nation-changing policy directions. Mr. Binay would not turn to Joey, say, to get an adequate briefing on how Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea would impact on the defense preparations in the Pacific Rim.
Or, at what “peak oil prices” would a Binay presidency consider a review of the Oil Deregulation policy.
Speaking of media, the choice of Toby Tiangco as spokesman of the UNA, the political coalition that would carry the presidential dreams of Mr. Binay in 2016, is not a positive thing either. You get distracted by the hairstyle of Mr. Tiangco. When he talks of UNA and Mr. Binay, the people do not listen with intensity. The listeners say something like this: the guy needs a decent haircut.
In the current political context, optics – sadly – are just as important. And the optics of Toby Tiangco’s rockista hairstyle would matter in a presidential campaign.
Mr. Binay, in 2016, needs a fresh and defining theme. The one he used in 2010, showing off the greatness of Makati, would no longer wash. A few new developments, The Fort, for example have been stealing the thunder from Makati’s CBD in terms of luring in the named locators. Quezon City is building its own CBD and other select sprawls (in other towns and cities) may finally diminish, if not totally erode, Makati’s claim as the hub of everything.
Just more than two years before the 2016 campaign, Mr. Binay still lacks a solid platform
and plank upon which he would campaign on. Of course, he has no problem tapping the best and the brightest for that task as Filipino thinkers, mostly kulang sa pansin, would eagerly jump at the task of helping a major presidential candidate (or any presidential candidate for that matter), write a campaign platform.
He should write a coherent, credible platform now.
The political organization of Mr. Binay is a humungous one, and as such, it is unwieldy.
The perception that he is a frontrunner has attracted all sorts of campaign types to his camp, from the idealistic ones who have been with Mr. Binay since his street protesting days, to the opportunistic ones that expects the gravy after their principal’s election to the presidency.
In my home province of Pampanga for one, the ones claiming to do grassroots work for Mr. Binay belong to the class of political slime and sleaze.
We don’t know the deeper reasons why the PDP-Laban was dropped by Mr. Binay, given that party’s pivotal role in the democratic restoration. By dropping the PDP-Laban, the opportunity for great symbolism and getting all the still-surviving members of the opposition Batasan members for one last political fight, was lost.
Despite all these, there is one good attribute of the Running Man Binay that ordinary voters would appreciate in 2016 – he is a politician. I will explain.
After six years of Mr. Aquino’s unwavering technocracy, Mr. Binay, the politician, would be a burst of fresh air by the time the campaign season commences. By 2016, there would be a fatigue for technocratic policies that have placed a premium on growth rates, on the ratings of the credit agencies, on the alleluias from the multilateral institutions. And a regime that lacked even the most elementary concern for unfortunate, desperate lives.
The lives of me and my neighbors and the lives of most of the people I know.
The toll on the general public of a mirthless, jobless and joyless growth – and the bless the Top 1 percent meme – would be deeply felt by 2016 and the entry of Mr. Binay and his populist policies would be, generally, most welcome.
The words “politician”and “populism” which had been duly skewered and made synonymous with political corruption and slime, will have a change of definition – very positive ones – by the time Mr. Binay starts stumping for votes.
Why, people, would probably say, we need a candidate who we can talk with, one who can feel our pain, our alienation from the mainstream, and can feel our deepest frustrations. Mr. Binay, who claimed to have been from humble origins, would probably listen to their (our, rather) heartaches and plaints.
The do-gooders and the so-called civil society would lose their knickers in anguish over the possibility that a politician with a populist bent would assume power after Mr. Aquino.
But that would be the payback for the great omission of a technocratic government – where the summum bonum has been the pursuit of growth and where rising GDP charts – not overall human well-being – are paramount. Unfortunate human lives are an afterthought.
In short, Mr. Binay will thrive in 2016 precisely because of the past six years. The ordinary people like me and my neighbors would want a president who would care to listen.
A little sleaze and pliability, we would not mind. Governing, as we have learned in the past few years, cannot be really done from an unflinching, but high-handed, moral ground that is obsessed, not with empowering human lives but with nice GDP charts.