Pursuing the PDAF crooks was the right thing to do and it was, truly, unprecedented in our political history. But as in all the actions of the Aquino administration, there are caveats and they are certainly unsettling.
If you failed to notice this, I will point it out to you. Have you observed the extraordinary giddiness, the irrational exuberance, by which the Aquino administration – via the justice department and its various instrumentalities – pursued the plunder cases against Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada? We all can agree that the passion and efforts behind the Corona impeachment were surpassed by the passion and intensity expended in the pursuit of the plunder cases.
The underlying reason behind the irrational exuberance is simple – politics. Senators Enrile, Revilla and Estrada are no run-of-the-mill senators in terms of political clout. While Mr. Enrile is the only one with the intellectual heft and political gravitas, Senators Revilla and Estrada are both big-name movie actors and are popular leaders of the opposition to Mr. Aquino. Until now.
By jailing the three, the Aquino administration was not only able to convey to the world that the anti-corruption fight is for real. It gained pogi points from global anti-corruption groups and multilateral institutions. More, in one stroke that earned universal acclaim for the Aquino administration, it also decapitated the strength of the opposition.
Mr. Enrile, then and now, is the senior leader cum statesman of the opposition. His brain power is such that he has more cerebellum than five of Mr. Aquino’s Senate allies. Before he was jailed, Mr. Revilla was planning to run for president under the banner of the Lakas-CMD which he chairs. Mr. Estrada was the top choice to run as vice presidential candidate of Mr. Binay under the UNA-PMP coalition. The plunder cases aborted the higher political dreams of Mr. Revilla and Mr. Estrada and kept out Mr. Enrile from the Senate. He will return soon after the High Court ruled in favor of his bail petition. His status, his gravitas, however, is dented.
The Aquino administration is predisposed to cut down to size its major political opponents through means fair or otherwise and that precisely happened in the case of the three political heavyweights. Mr. Binay, the vice president, who stands in the way of the presidential dreams of The Anointed – Mar Roxas – came next after the three senators.
Many Filipinos acknowledge that Mr. Binay and the members of his family in politics – to put it mildly – are not saints. Makati City tenders on public work projects really tweaked the Government Procurement Act to favor the favored contractors. But this is the sad reality of bidding in the country. Not one of the LGUs in the country adheres rigidly to the GPA (except perhaps Naga City during the time of Mr. Robredo). Only, the tweaking of the GPA was carried out, and is still being carried out, in Makati City and the rest of Metro Manila on a grander scale.
The problem is this. Only Mr. Binay has presidential ambitions and that makes him different from the former and current mayors of Metro Manila that do the same thing–and all the time. The ordure in the bidding process of some Metro Manila cities stink more than the Makati bids (there are cities that award all their major public works contracts to one contractor) but these are not exposed as assaults on government integrity because the mayors simply want to be mayors and not president of the republic.
The fault of Mr. Binay is really to stand in the way of somebody else’s presidential ambition and Mr. Binay is eminently positioned to crush that ambition. So, he and his family got the demolition job. A demolition job pursued with the usual passion and irrational exuberance.
The next saga in our dirty politics will now focus on Senator Grace Poe. Now that she has turned down with finality the offer to run as vice president under the LP-led coalition, she is sure to be at the receiving end of one thing – a demolition job. Without a PDAF scam and a squeaky-clean image, the sowers of political malevolence are still at the planning stage. But it will come.
Right now, a legal case on her citizenship is the low-hanging fruit that is available to the demolition teams. The non-stop buzz that Poe is up for a Supreme Court case, and the SC will reportedly find her citizenship papers deficient, is the opening salvo. Every lawyer you talk to raises this possibility and you can only wonder where this talk came from and who are its authors.
If we laymen think that the Aquino operatives will just allow Poe to run for president without a baggage — and without confronting legal cases while competing for the presidency — we give too much credence to the thesis that the Aquino people are sometimes guided by their better angels. No, they are not. They are guided by only one thing – overweening ambition.
They will not stop at bullying Poe as an angry Inday Susan has decried.
They will surely blacken her until she is kettle-black. Or until she is Binay-black.