The Germans, with their love of precision and big ideas, has a word for it: schadenfreude, or the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. This German word literally means “harm-joy.”
Our closest Filipino equivalent is isip talangka or crab mentality.
I always believed that after Vice President Jejomar Binay declared his candidacy for president and recorded high approval ratings, exceeding Aquino’s, he would come down to earth, a victim of schadenfreude and the envy and scheming of others.
Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Koko Pimentel turned Binay-bashing into their senatorial avocation at public expense. They are clearly taking pleasure from inflicting pain and embarrassment on the vice president and his family. And they measure success by how far they can bring Binay’s ratings down.
After 20 hearings of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee, you would think that the shaming would already have run its course by now. His inquisitors would be weary of their dark mission; or the vice president, showing grit and resilience, would turn the situation around against them.
But now it appears to this observer that the entire project of bringing down Binay is reaching its climacteric or turning point. And it’s a real riddle what is going to happen.
One headline to lift Binay up
This paper, never a slouch in reporting the news and developments, seems to me better informed about this drama than others.
In two days and two headlines this week, The Manila Times, without premeditation or pleasure, strangely raised the spirits of Vice President Binay with a positive headline in bold black letters, and then after just a span of 24 hours, dashed his confidence with a negative headline in equally bold black fonts.
First, on Tuesday, May 12, the Times ran this headline, “No Binay indictment.”
The supporting story reported that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales described as untrue the report of one paper (not the Times) that the Ombudsman’s office is close to indicting the Vice President and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
“It’s not true that the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause for indictment, it’s not true,” Morales said.
But she continued: “Now, whether or not the Special Panel of Investigators found one, we do not know. We were caught by surprise when it came out in today’s papers that the panel found probable cause.”
As far as her office is concerned, the case against the Binays remains pending.
Another headline to bring him down
The following day, the Times came up with a follow-up.
It ran the following headline: “CA freezes Binay’s bank accounts.”
The story reported that the Court of Appeals (CA) had frozen 242 bank accounts and insurance policies belonging to Vice President Jejomar Binay.
A freeze order was issued by the First Division, which is composed of Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr. and Associate Justices Edwin Sorongon and Ricardo Rosario. The order is for a period of six months.
The report also said that the CA, in a resolution, granted a petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to allow the council to scrutinize the bank accounts of Binay and members of his family, as well as corporations linked to the Vice President.
The AMLC and the Ombudsman wanted to assure that personal assets of Binay that are allegedly ill-gotten would not be dissipated and so a freeze order had to be issued by the appellate court.
The CA issued the resolution after finding probable cause with the petition filed by AMLC.
It also ordered banks to immediately make a reporting of amounts remaining in the bank accounts of the Binays within 24 hours after the banks concerned receive a copy of the order.
The AMLC filed the petition upon request of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, who had ordered preventive suspension of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. for six months.
The Manila Times learned that it was also Morales who made a request for examination of the bank accounts of the Binay family last February.
Highest official to be subjected to freeze order
The freeze order, if confirmed and implemented, is a huge blow against the Vice President.
Since the AMLC law, Republic Act 9160, was passed in 2001, this is the first time that the bank accounts of a Vice President of the republic were ordered frozen.
This makes Binay the highest-ranking government official investigated by AMLC over allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
In response to the Times scoop, the spokesman of the vice president could only say that court proceedings are supposed to be confidential.
A change of topics
I thought it was time for me to write more on the politics of 2016, when I read that Sen. Grace “ultimately responsible” Poe, is suddenly being touted as a possible presidential candidate next year, and as President Aquino’s horse.
It seems but proper to start with Vice President Binay, because he is already a certain candidate, and because he is generally regarded as the frontrunner in the race, based on some tentative surveys.
Binay also has the most extensive political organization, and a living and breathing political dynasty. Besides himself, he has a daughter who is a
senator, another daughter who is a representative representing Makati, and a son who succeeded him as mayor of Makati.
With his frontrunner status and his apparent wealth, he is a natural target for the crabs and political operators.
The combined resolve of the AMLC, the Ombudsman and the Court of Appeals to subject Binay’s affairs to close scrutiny will materially affect the political landscape. More factors will come into play in coming days.
At this point, the fate of Jejomar Binay appears to be hanging on a laundry line of suspicions and accusations.
They should be listened to this time because it’s no longer just Trillanes and Cayetano dishing out the dirt.