LONG BEFORE it began, and before I ever wrote about it, I spoke to Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, on the basis of what I had learned from the best possible sources, of what Malacañang and the Liberal Party were planning to do to prevent him from running for president in 2016. The ultimate objective was to remove him from office, put him in jail, if need be, to keep him from running. What I had learned at the time was precisely what they have done to Binay, step by step, up to the last detail, till now.
The case vs. Binay
A subcommittee of the Senate blue ribbon committee has just come out with a report recommending the filing of plunder charges against Binay and his son, the mayor of Makati, Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. This has not happened before. How many senators will sign the report, and how the Ombudsman will react to it, if signed by a sufficient number, remain to be seen. But even if Binay escapes the planned destruction by his adversaries, the rule of law and our society’s sense of justice have already been despoiled by our politicians in their naked pursuit of political power.
PNoy is the central player
As in the impeachment and removal of Chief Justice Renato Corona, the forced enactment of the patently offensive Reproductive Health Law, and the current effort to bulldoze the passage of the unconstitutional and treasonous Bangsamoro Basic Law Bill, PNoy is the central player here. He personally presided over the small-group meetings that planned the whole thing. So the questions to ask are both political and personal.
How could it ever happen? Binay had been “elected” with PNoy on a split ticket in the first automated election; had become his housing czar and adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers Concerns, among others; performed many international missions for him; and remained close to PNoy’s siblings, who were said to favor him over the other presidential pretenders. Despite the humiliations and provocations, Binay had never threatened to leave the Cabinet despite the humiliations and lead the opposition. How then could PNoy organize the campaign to destroy Binay?
Where Binay erred
It appears that as far as PNoy was concerned, Binay committed a number of errors. His first error was that he failed to recognize what was at stake in the ballgame. It was power—state power—dark and mystic power—more intoxicating than the strongest opium. PNoy is not ready to let it go, except if it becomes absolutely necessary, but only to his chosen successor. He would be the only one, rather than a political party or any group of men and women, to anoint the one who would rule after him. But Binay made the mistake of announcing so early in the day that he would like to become the successor.
Then he compounded his mistake by investing so much in the paid propaganda surveys to make himself the “most trusted official” while PNoy’s trust rating plunged underwater.
Then he decided to run his daughter Nancy for the Senate without any compelling reason for it. This made his political dynasty a source of grave concern to everybody else.
Were he to become the president, he would be the first (and so far only one) to sit in Malacañang, while one daughter sits in the Senate, another sits in the House, and a son sits as mayor of Makati, the country’s premier financial district, with all its vast resources. This PNoy could not permit.
For these reasons, Binay must be stopped. The attack dogs at the Senate had to dig up every possible dirt, launch into a wild fishing expedition by going after every agency under Binay’s chairmanship, until they came face to face with Pag-IBIG president Atty. Darlene Marie Berberabe, a no-nonsense lawyer, who compelled the usually caustic and unparliamentary Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV to back off.
Their next act was to bring in the Anti-Money Laundering Council to look into the bank accounts of the Binays and their alleged associates without need of a court order or the existence of a predicate crime, such as money laundering, drug trafficking, other syndicated crimes, etc. to justify AMLAC’s entry into the whole mess.
The Corona operation repeated
This was a repeat of what Aquino and his minions did to Corona during his impeachment trial, even though Corona was not even accused of graft and corruption, but only of failing to file an accurate Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth, which the law allows the individual filer to amend or correct. But where Corona was tried after having been impeached by the House, Binay was “investigated” by a subcommittee of the Blue Ribbon Committee, in violation of the Constitution and the Rules of the Senate.
The Senate is not a fiscal’s office or a police precinct
From the very beginning, I have denounced these proceedings as unconstitutional and beyond the jurisdiction of the Senate. For nearly nine years I was chairman of the Senate committee on rules and Majority Leader to five Senate presidents. My understanding of the right and duty of the members of Congress to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation is based on Section 21, Article VI of the Constitution, which provides: “The Senate or the House of Representatives or any of its respective committees may conduct inquiries in aid of legislation in accordance with its duly published rules of procedure. The rights of persons appearing in or affected by such inquiries shall be respected.”
This establishes a clear distinction between a Senate committee and the fiscal’s or prosecutor’s office or a police precinct. It is not the duty of the Congress to prosecute any accused individual, nor to establish probable cause in any alleged offense, and no inquiry in aid of legislation is tasked to establish the innocence or guilt of any person appearing before it.
The Senate attack dogs have dirty hands
Yet it is not the Constitution or the Rules of Parliamentary Procedure alone that should have prevented the Senate attack dogs from going after the Binays; their simplest understanding of the most basic rule of morality should have held them back. For these senators had been bribed by PNoy to convict and remove Corona on an unimpeachable offense; they are in no position to investigate, much less judge, anyone. Their hands are dirty, they have lost their right to their office, if ever they had ever deserved it. Whether or not they quit, as they should, they should be investigated, not just by their peers who may be guilty of the same offense, but in a criminal court of justice.
Lest I be accused of being partisan, as Trillanes once made the mistake of suggesting in one news forum, let me make a personal disclosure. I campaigned with Binay in 2010 as a senatorial candidate. Despite my reservations about the validity of the elections, at the request of a friend, I agreed to help Binay, pro-bono, for the next two years. I disengaged in December 2012, after I decided to become a serious presidential critic.
I want to talk of regime and system change, not rigged elections
I have a warm heart for Binay, but I am not part of his “early bird” presidential campaign. I traveled with him abroad, but was never asked to join any of his local sorties. The Grand Alliance for Democracy, which I chair, is not part of his UNA coalition. Neither do I accept the propaganda surveys which seem to shape his view of things. And while he sincerely wants to become president, I am more interested, together with the National Transformation Council, in regime and system change, and in making sure that we first clean up the electoral system before we talk of the next elections.
But even if I happened to be a sworn enemy, which I am not, nothing would stop me from denouncing what Aquino has done and is doing to Binay. It is completely rotten and should not go unpunished.
Will the Ombudsman follow blindly the Senate attack dogs?
Now, assuming the other senators sign the report which Pimentel, Trillanes, Cayetano and Grace Poe Llamanzares have already signed, will the Ombudsman charge the Binays father and son with plunder on the bases of the report? Not likely. The Ombudsman will still have to conduct its own investigation before taking action, if ever. So it may be too early for Malacañang and the LP to celebrate. In its effort to destroy Binay, the Senate has destroyed itself. But this is not the only bad news for PNoy.
Your house is burning, Mr. President.
Treason and the peace negotiators
Last week, two serious cases were filed against PNoy and his people on major issues.
The first is a case of inciting to sedition and treason filed by Manila Rep. Jose (Lito) Atienza, Abakada partylist Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, former Ambassador Jose Romero and international law specialist Jeremy Gatdula from the University of Asia and the Pacific School of Law and Governance against 23 respondents, including Justice Marvic Leonen, presidential peace adviser Teresita Quintos Deles, Miriam Coronel Ferrer from the government, and Mohagher Iqbal, chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front negotiating panel and the Transition Commission, and former congressman Datu Michael Mastura.
The case arose from the conduct of the parties in connection with the negotiation of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro (FAB) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which are the mother documents of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law Bill (Babala), but whose constitutionality is assailed in the complaint and everywhere else. The case was filed before the Manila Regional Trial Court.
Robbing the coconut farmers of their billions
The second is a petition filed before the Supreme Court by the Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines (CCFOP) against PNoy, acting PCGG chairman Richard Amurao, Chairman Cesar Villanueva of the Governance Commission for GOCCs, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima seeking to nullify Executive Orders 179 and 180, series of 2015, which seek to “reconvey and privatize” the coco levy funds worth about P80 billion and assets worth about P200 billion, which should be used for the benefit of all coconut farmers and for the development of the coconut industry.
CCFOP spokesman Charles Avila said Aquino “cannot arrogate unto himself, without legislative authority, the power to allocate, use and administer the billions of pesos of coconut funds and assets. Nor can he arrogate unto himself he exclusive authority of the judiciary to execute its final and executory decisions, in violation of the separation of powers, essential to a democracy.” The farmers are confident the High Court would uphold the rights of the coconut industry, said Avila.
When it rains, it pours
More cases are expected to be filed against the FAB and the CAB, as well as on the “murder” of the 44 Special Action Force police commandos who were massacred on Jan. 25, 2015 at Mamasapano, Maguindanao, by the combined forces of the MILF and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, after they were denied military reinforcement by their commander-in-chief. Whoever said PNoy’s worries are at an end?