Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay is a free man, at least for now. Lately, Binay has been using that freedom to advance his causes. After all, he lives in a so-called “democratic” country that supposedly champions “freedom of speech”. Those who think that Binay should stop criticizing the performance of the current government under President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino do not know the real meaning behind the said concepts called democracy and freedom of speech. Just like everyone else, Binay has the right to air out his grievances against government ineptitude and corruption.
Immediately after resigning from his cabinet posts, the VP has become emboldened to speak out against the President. While the timing of his move is quite suspect – the Presidential Election is in less than a year from now – it is still a welcome move nonetheless. As any frugal man would tell you, in a price war, the consumer will be the biggest winner in the end. In this case, it is the Filipino public who can emerge as the winner in the war of words between Binay and BS Aquino. The public should see this as an ongoing debate laid out before them. This is a great opportunity for both parties to answer all the allegations made so the Filipino people will finally know who is lying or telling the truth. Both parties will also be forced to work harder at impressing the people. Or at least pretend to.
How did this come about anyway? Binay says he was tired of being the administration’s punching bag, a comment made in reference to what he suspects is a concerted effort by BS Aquino’s allies to persecute him and his family during Senate hearings. One can’t help but agree with his claim since for months, a few senators have been relentlessly using senate time and resources to conduct “investigations” on alleged corrupt activities against Binay when he was still a Mayor of the City of Makati. These investigations have resulted in nothing significant however.
The question some people have been asking is, why didn’t people in the know file the complaints against Binay while he was still a Mayor? Senator Antonio Trillanes seems to know a lot of things and have bragged about having the “evidence” to support his allegations against Binay so many times in the past. We have yet to see him walk the talk though. It’s a good thing we didn’t hold our breath waiting. Unfortunately for Trillanes, his lack of conviction has inadvertently exposed him as a mere propagandist and attack dog of someone from the higher up.
After months of being the subject of trial by media, Binay has finally had enough, according to him. His speech revealed nothing surprising for the government’s critics though. Binay simply confirmed what some of us have been saying about BS Aquino for years – that his government is incompetent, corrupt and uses selective justice in favor of his allies.
However, Binay’s revelation has shocked and angered not just BS Aquino himself, but his most rabid supporters, some of them former celebrities who are more popular now for protesting on the streets against BS Aquino’s political enemies than for what they actually did during their heydays in showbiz. I mean, who remembers what Leah Navarro was famous for other than badmouthing politicians not allied against the Liberal Party? Her latest antics include holding rallies against Binay to stop him from becoming the next President of the Philippines. One wonders though if she and her group are rallying to stop Binay from running or to stop the voters from voting for him. Either way, it will be a challenge for them considering Binay is still popular in the surveys. In a society where majority of voters prefer form to substance, popularity is important.
For his part, Jim Paredes has been raving mad and has been accusing members of the media of being under Binay’s payroll because they don’t criticize him the way they criticize BS Aquino. He thinks they are playing favorites by criticizing PNoy all the time. That is simply one of the most bizarre suggestions that have come out of an Aquino fan club member. Paredes does contradict himself occasionally. For someone who is proud to be Filipino, he also insinuates that a lot of Filipinos can easily be bought and therefore, is admitting that Filipinos in general are corrupt.
Paredes’s logic is simply wrong. Most political pundits in mainstream media focus more on BS Aquino because he is the President. He has the authority to sign bills into law and has the power to either make Filipino lives better or worse off with his policies. So it makes more sense for the media to keep the spotlight on him.
The truth is, it is challenging to write something against Binay because, so far, nothing has been proven in court. Most of the allegations against Binay remain just that – allegations. There is not a lot to work with. I can imagine most media columnists struggling to write something against him too since the news already report on the same things. Those who choose to criticize him end up just attacking his appearance by highlighting his dark complexion and his short stature. For lack of anything to write, they simply repeat what the senators have been saying against Binay even when the information is based on hearsay. Some also insist that Binay has not provided evidence he is innocent. Never mind that it is the accuser who should provide evidence of someone’s guilt.
Yes, so much has been said against Binay and it is not hard for some people to believe them. It doesn’t help Binay’s cause that his children hold powerful positions in government and has been blatantly defending their father instead of inhibiting themselves from the issues against him. The thought of Binay becoming President and his children acting like members of the royal family is probably playing on people’s mind and scaring them. Instead of being scared of the Binays, they should be scared of the voters. It was the voters who put the Binays in power in the first place.
Whatever the reason for this latest drama in Philippine politics, it is only one of the consequences of having a President and Vice President who come from two different political parties. One should also see this as a sort of check and balance. Since the VP does not have to show allegiance to the President’s party, he can openly criticize the President’s policies.
If only Binay criticised BS Aquino from the moment he noticed something was amiss in his administration way back in 2010, people wouldn’t doubt his sincerity. It remains to be seen if attacking BS Aquino now is a good strategy for Binay. It will only work if more of the members of the public become disgruntled with the government. Binay’s criticism might be the thing that will finally push people off the edge and turn against BS Aquino. That is something we should all look forward – the people finally using their power to hold an Aquino accountable for his indiscretions.
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