IF I robbed you once, would you give me the opportunity to rob you one more time?
The question is raised because I happened to have been invited to the oath-taking of Makati City Mayor-elect Abby Binay at the Coconut Palace last Monday, and the occasion unraveled to me the fact that of the 20 elected officials of the city who would assume office beginning noon of June 30, only two are non-members of the successful Team Binay. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay sort of highlighted this fact when only six councilors for the Second District of Makati came forward to take their oath.
“Why do we have only six councilors for the second district?” the Vice President asked.
Quickly deciphering a signal from his aides, Jojo answered his own question, “Ah … The other two belong to the other side.” The comment drew laughter from the big attendance.
He didn’t mention anyone by name, but he certainly could be alluding to the camp of his detractors.
Except in the case of Mayor Abby, who was sworn into office by Supreme Court Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta, all the elected officials in the ceremonies took their oath of office from Vice President Binay, namely, Vice Mayor Monique Lagdameo, Congressman Monsour del Rosaario of Makati City First District, Congressman Luis Campos of Makati City Second District, and 14 out of 16 councilors of both districts. (Congressman Campos is actually the husband of Mayor Abby Binay, but why she does not carry the surname of the congressman was beyond me on the occasion. Could it be in the tradition of MTRCB Member Marra Pl. Lanot, who though married to Yes! magazine Associate Editor Pete Lacaba just refuses to drop her virgin name in the name of women liberation?)
All told, 18 out of 20 officials of Makati City who took their oath of office on the occasion were Binay people. As the master of ceremonies put it, “We have proven to the whole world that Makati City is, and will always be, a Binay Country.”
Now, that strikes me as nothing less than a phenomenon. Makati City is the one single domain of graft and corruption allegedly committed by Jojo Binay according to Makati Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado. That allegation had been the subject of a yearlong Senate investigation which, ventilated as a conscious demolition job by Jojo’s enemies, merited wide media coverage and ultimately proved to be Jojo’s waterloo in the 2016 presidential fight.
At no point in the entire past presidential campaign had there been allegations of Jojo’s evil doing, except those supposedly committed in Makati. Would the people of Makati have voted the Team Binay in the last elections overwhelmingly if they, as Jojo’s foes alleged, were victims of his alleged thieving in the city government? Either the people of Makati are a stupid lot or those allegations of Jojo’s thievery were all lies. The victory of Team Binay says it all.
To be sure, none of the 10 instances of graft and corruption allegedly committed by Vice President Binay while he was still mayor of Makati had been proven true. The Supreme Court itself has ruled that there was no overpricing in the construction of Makati City Hall Building 2, one of those corrupt practices the Vice President was being charged with in endless stream of publicity.
Evidently, in an effort to really pin down the Vice President, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales urgently pressed the Commission on Audit to release a so-called special audit report that reportedly contravened COA’s earlier finding that no anomaly was committed in the construction of the building in question. COA refused to be cowed, but in the eyes of the public, Jojo had been damaged irreparably on the issue of corruption such that though he was still on top of surveys by as recent as February, come the debate period, in which Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas kept harping on the issue, Jojo’s presidential bid was doomed for good.
So must be the similar ambitions of the rest in the Binay clan. For one, Jun Jun Binay had been axed as Makati City mayor already, and replacing him was Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña, who proved to be in the mold of former Vice Mayor Mercado’s vindictiveness.
Hardly had he warmed the Makati mayoral seat when he evicted then-Congresswoman
Abby Binay from her office in the Makati City Hall building, casting the courageous daughter as the Last Binay Man standing, in a manner of putting it.
The lady solon proved quite equal to the challenge. She dared to put up with her evictor for the Makati mayoral post, while her husband took up the task of filling in her previous congressional shoes. Both wife and husband prevailed in their respective fights.
On that oath-taking occasion, I would have been gratified by Mayor Abby’s personal assessment of her successful electoral fight. What could she say as the most significant implication of her victory? She explained that the people have spoken and the results of the election in Makati are a reflection of popular will. She would not cite any such special implication as I would have loved to hear from her.
“There is no implication,” she said curtly.
I felt constrained to relate the question to what I termed “the defeat of your father.”
Just as succinctly, she called the result of her father’s fight, “That’s destiny.”
Just as I hold, however, that history does not happen but is made, so do I perceive Jojo’s presidential defeat not the product of fate but the handiwork of malicious machination.
For if destiny were to be the rule, then all roads would have led Jojo to the Philippine presidency. No Vice President who ran for President ever lost. Vice Presidents are the historically destined heirs to the presidency. But no, Jojo lost, therefore, denied of his historical destiny.
Denying Jojo the presidency all because of concocted charges comprised the gravest injustice committed in the last presidential contest. In light of this must the overwhelming win of the Team Binay in Makati be viewed.
True, the people have spoken. But what did they speak about? They spoke about how wrongly Jojo had been treated in the national struggle. True, election results in Makati are a reflection of the popular will. But what is that popular will but a hankering for the Binay brand of governance getting implemented not just in Makati but in the whole country as well.
As every rhetoric goes, the hankering was expressed by the MC in the opening message on the occasion, thus: “And we who are gathered here are most fortunate to stand witness to this momentous event—to stand witness to the triumph of justice, to stand witness to the strength of our democratic ideals, to stand witness to the dawning of a new era of peace and prosperity, and beautiful blessings for all the people of the City of Makati.”
Such pompous prose and poetry when all there is to say is, Thank God Jojo found a vindication for the cruel pillorying he suffered in his quest for the Philippine presidency.