There are only two ways to beat Jejomar Binay in the coming election (1) field a presidential candidate who can pose a credible challenge to him or (2) throw him in jail. The way things are going, it is likely that neither will happen. Pretty much every politician that can even be half a challenger to Binay is a bozo at best. And we all know where all these Senate “probes” go. Nowhere. So Binay may be bad, corrupt, a thief, a liar, a cheat, and all that, even “the last great crook” as ‘senator’ Antonio Trillanes IV was said to have called him. But the missing piece in all the noise and hoo-ha being generated by Binay’s enemies is a key one that is critical to propping up any hope of stopping his march to Malacanang: strategic direction.
For the first challenge, finding someone who could beat him at the polls, the anyone-but-Binay camp needs to get a bit more organised. Binay for now commands a big following. And if there is one lesson to be learned from Nancy Binay’s triumph at the polls back in 2013, it would be that surveys and social media demonisation have both proven to be unreliable predictors or even determinants of who wins or loses in Philippine elections.
More importantly, the different interested parties need to unite behind one candidate to beat Binay. If they don’t and, as has happened so many times in the past, all go their own ways and field their own presidential candidates they will have to work harder eroding his popularity numbers. If this election becomes a race involving, say, four candidates, Binay’s ratings will need to be further hammered down to 25 percent — if that is even possible (and granting, as I mentioned earlier, that these polls are, for argument’s sake, reliable predictors of voter behaviour).
The second challenge is even more formidable. How would one go about depriving Binay of his freedom in such a way that he will be unable to run for the presidency? The irony here is that the leader of the lynch mob currently “curcifying” Binay, ‘senator’ Trillanes, actually set a precedent for successfully running for Senator while he was in prison for rebellion!
So if it weren’t enough of a feat getting this big anti-Binay show-and-tell circus happening in the Senate moved over to a proper Philippine court (which, if we recall, is the only government body with the power to put people in prison), there will still be two hurdles ahead: navigating the more stringent standards of the court system to prove him guilty and convicting him, and then implement measures to prevent him from running for President while he is in jail. A long journey awaits, to say the least.
But of course, the traditional narrative is, as I write this, being spun. Binay seems to be toast — depending on who you ask, that is. The illusion that Binay is beat can, to be fair, persist up to the eleventh hour of the campaign. And then the voting starts. Filipino minds remain fair game to all sorts of election winning machinations up to the very last minute before they step into the polling booth. And even then, ballots are still subject to other machinations before they are counted. And even as they are counted, other machinations would then kick into gear to influence outcomes there as well.
In short, what Binay’s foes need is a kick-ass presidential-grade election winning machine that can work through all stages of the election winning effort — from the campaign, to greasing the voters at the eleventh hour, and to looking after their interests during the counting. It should be an end-to-end systematic effort to beat Binay. By the looks of it, Binay’s enemies are behaving in a way that is anything but. Bad news, considering Binay is a strong and wealthy politician and it will be an absolute big mistake to underestimate this man.
Will his challengers step up, organise themselves into that cohesive force, and work smarter by approaching the challenge in an intelligent manner? That remains to be seen.
[Photo courtesy YesFMDumaguete.com.]
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