For the sake of the country, the opposition—which I presume is led by Vice President Jejomar Binay must find, ASAP, the courage to be a real opposition to President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd who has been wrecking our institutions, continuing his criminal negligence in effective governance, and allowing corruption in all levels of government to flourish.
Just because Aquino runs a student-council government, as former Senator Joker Arroyo vividly described its amateurishness, doesn’t mean that the country deserves a student-council opposition, which is what we seem to have so far.
Binay has been savaged in Aquino’s ‘yellow ribbon’ committee. There is not a shadow of a doubt that the demolition job against him for his alleged corruption as Makati city mayor has been orchestrated and funded by the President and his inner circle, led by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. Binay himself has practically begged his detractors to spare his children from the mudslinging. Aquino’s operators are out to undertake his impeachment, believing that they can execute a Renato Corona Part II.
Yet what does Binay do? He attends a Cabinet meeting called by Aquino, one of his rare ones. He even asks for a purportedly secret meeting with Aquino, who of course, immediately announces to the nation that he has granted Binay an audience, as the vice president has requested. Did he really expect Aquino to keep the meeting secret?
And oh, the agenda for the meeting? Binay asking (read: begging) him to ask the Senate blue ribbon committee investigation on him to be stopped. And Aquino says that, of course, he can’t do that, much as he wants to, since he respects the separation of powers of the two branches of government.
One could almost read the thought bubble atop Aquino’s head just after he said that: “You have to buy them, idiot, as I did in removing the Chief Justice.”
Senate President Franklin Drilon publicly made a fool out of Binay when he told the press (and I admire his managing to keep a poker face as he said it): “Tumawag po sa akin si President Aquino at ni-relay ang request ni Vice President Binay na itigil na ang investigations,” Drilon told reporters.
“Ang sagot ko, ‘Sir, you were part of the Senate before, alam niyo na nobody can dictate on the senators what to do, especially when the matter of when to start and to stop an investigation is addressed to the chair and members of a committee. Not even the Senate President can tell them to stop’,” Drilon said.
I suspect after that, Drilon rushed to the washroom to laugh his heart out, as he thought “You have to buy us, you idiots. Ano, libre?”
It’s too bad there was no reporter at Drilon’s press conference to ask: “So the billions in Disbursement Acceleration Program money Aquino gave the senators to take out the Chief Justice wasn’t necessary?”
Binay should be reminded that Filipinos hate fence-sitters, which is why a related adage in Pilipino — Namamangka sa dalawang ilog (Riding a boat in two rivers) – is so powerful as a censure against those who seem unable to choose which way to go.
If he’s concerned about the feelings of Aquino’s sisters, why doesn’t he just tell them: “Pasensyahan na lang tayo, but you spoiled your brat so much he is pulling this country down the drain.”
Do Binay and what Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda calls in private “Nognog’s Three Stooges” (the governor, the congressman and what’s-his-name-what-is-he?) make up the entire Opposition? If not, where the hell are they? Can’t we have other political leaders in UNA defend Binay?
What happened to those three macho senators – Enrile, Estrada, and Revilla? Can’t they launch an offensive against Aquino, given their hundreds of millions, maybe even billions of pesos, they earned wherever? Don’t they realize they could spend the rest of their lives in jail if Aquino’s proxy wins the presidency in 2016?
What happened to the swashbuckling colonel who defied Cory and the Americans – Gregorio Honasan? Has age stolen his thunder? I was told Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. asked his staff ‘to tone down’ their press releases against this Administration, right after Drilon asked him: “You also used your PDAF, didn’t you?”
I suspect Binay and the opposition have their balls still tucked in their pockets, because of poll surveys that show Aquino is still popular, despite his boo-boos, the corruption in his government, and his failure to deliver basic services, such as mass transit.
Indeed, as quite expected, the Social Weather Stations again has come to Aquino’s rescue by claiming that its latest poll, done September 26 to 29 shows that Aquino’s net satisfaction rating has bounced to positive 35 percent from 29 in June.
As I have explained several times in the past, “opinion” surveys are grossly inaccurate as they capture the whims of respondents, not their convictions as are captured in voter-preference surveys. And as Binay would know from confidential surveys shown him, he is way, way ahead in such voter-preference surveys for the presidency.
Aquino is history, bad history; Binay need not fear him.
I suspect SWS’ method for its recent survey is even scientifically flawed. The latest SWS poll reports that the President’s net satisfaction rating in Metro Manila jumped to positive 35 on September 26-29 from 29 on June 27 to 30, a remarkable increase of 20 percentage points in just two months, which explains why Aquino’s overall ratings improved. Would you believe that, given the fact that in those two months nothing significant occurred to explain why more Filipinos were satisfied with him?
Or is it because the SWS polled only 300 people out of a population of about 15 million, and statistical principles do not hold because of the heterogeneity of urban residential areas?
Maybe two years ago, Binay and the opposition had much reason to adopt a constructive criticism pose. This can no longer be, as this government has proven in the past two years to be so corrupt not only in the usual sense of the word but in the more import sense of corruptor of our institutions:
■ Three senators have been charged and arrested for alleged abuse of their pork barrel funds. Why don’t Binay and the opposition pressure the Commission on Audit to demand Budget Secretary Florencio Abad to release records involving the pork-barrel use of administration legislators?
■ The Supreme Court had ruled the Priority Development Assistance Fund as violating the Constitution. Why doesn’t the opposition file a case at the Supreme Court accusing Aquino of continuing with the pork-barrel scheme, merely renamed “Grassroots Participatory Budgeting?” Shouldn’t the Court be asked to issue a restraining order against the new scheme while it is deliberating on the issue?
■ The operation of the MRT-3 is such a mess and the corruption there is so obvious. Why doesn’t the opposition demand a more thorough investigation, and for its allies to file corruption charges against Aquino’s officials to augment that which was filed by the Ombudsman?
■ The Supreme Court has ruled Aquino’s Disbursement Acceleration Program unconstitutional and even called for those responsible for it charged in courts. Why doesn’t the opposition file malversation charges against Budget Secretary Florencio Abad? The number of such charges would be in the thousands, or the number of budget releases Abad ordered but had not been appropriated by Congress. Doesn’t the opposition realize that much of the billions released as DAP funding actually form the Liberal Party’s war chest for the 2016 contest?
■ Why has there been no call by the opposition to investigate the billion-peso-per month jueteng operations, when it is an open secret that it has flourished under Aquino, with the Central Luzon gambling lord having allegedly struck a deal with him and his inner circle.
This list is far from being comprehensive. If it wants to really find out the dirt of this Administration and lead the nation out of this current pigsty, the opposition should set up what in other democratic countries is called the opposition’s “shadow government.” There is really nothing shadowy about the concept. It means assigning one opposition leader monitoring a particular department or agency, not just to investigate corruption there but to determine whether it is doing its tasks.
Binay should realize that there are two apparently contradictory sentiments in the Filipinos’ psyche. Yes, they’d side with the underdog. But they also don’t like wimps who’ve lost their balls. The opposition has to find these.
Binay must cut now from the Aquino government, and it doesn’t even have to be clean.
FB: Rigoberto Tiglao