Jejomar Binay ‘should’ not be a presidential candidate in the Philippines. But of course. This, however, is the Philippines. And, yes, Binay is a presidential candidate. Not just a presidential candidate, but the leading candidate.
Bizarre as that may seem, that is the reality in the Philippines. The country is a democracy, and vocally “proud” of it. How could Filipinos not be proud of their so-called “democracy”? The concept of how their “will” is the final word has been shoved down their throats for decades by their politicians, by their broadcast media, and by their priests and pastors.A funny thing happened since Binay became the most popular presidential candidate vying for the 2016 presidential election, however. Suddenly “The Will of the People” that was the mantra chanted by cheerleaders of the “winners” of the 1986 “People Power” revolution is now a dirty word. There is something wrong with “the people’s choice” this time around they lament. Where is the nation’s conscience??? Why are people standing back and allowing a Binay presidency?
See, the “baffling” popularity of Jejomar Binay wouldn’t be much of a mystery if certain pundits apply their memories properly to this matter. Back in 1998, another such man became president of the Philippines. His name is Joseph “Erap” Estrada. He was the unpopular candidate in discussions backdropped by the din of clinking china in the salas of the homes of members of “civil society”. Erap was, they sneered, just an actor and a womanising drunk. So he was not fit to be president. So though he won the election, he was eventually overthrown by what, at the time, were the first generation of mobile-tech-enabled “activists”.
Guess what. It is the same argument all over again today. Binay is “not fit to be president”. No, he must not be president. But like Erap, Binay is a seasoned politician. And like Erap, he was mayor of one of the most affluent municipalities of Metro Manila. And like Erap, he is one of them (at least in the eyes of the average Filipino voter).
Lest we forget, the Philippines is NOT the Makati Business Club, or the clique of bloggers and “tweetizens” who salivate over the next bunch of trophies up for grabs in the next “Blog Awards”, or the men and women of leisure who could spend the day taking selfies in Luneta rallies, or the panel of “experts” who pontificate about “citizen journalism” in social media conventions.
No. The Philippines are constituted by people who queue for dole-outs at politicians’ homes and offices, camp out for days for a chance to dance and sing in Wowowee, and cheer and trend their favourite love teams’ hashtags on Twitter. Their idols are not Jose Rizal, Nelson Mandela, or Rosa Parks. Their idols are #Jamich, #KathNiel, and Papa Piolo. They do not care if a man is convicted of plunder or rebellion. Erap was convicted of plunder. But he came in a close hairy second in the 2010 presidential elections. Mutineer-turned-‘senator’ Antonio Trillanes IV was convicted of treason after endangering thousands of Filipino lives over an entire decade of military adventurism. But he won an election and became a ‘senator’ — while in prison.
Jejomar Binay once won an election to become mayor of the country’s wealthiest city then another one to become Vice President of the Philippines. Today he continues to be an absolute winnable. Because of his domination of that one single criteria that shapes elections in the Philippines, he has a lot of enemies who accuse him of many crimes. But so far they have not been clever enough to bring these allegations to a proper court. Who’s fault is that? That’s a no brainer. Binay will become president because he can, and not because of any higher or nobler purpose, and certainly not because of any sort of intelligence applied to that eventuality.
This is not America sang the Pat Metheny Group with David Bowie back in the 1980s in the film The Falcon and the Snowman, a film about two ordinary men who betrayed their country for a bit of money. This, on the other hand, is the Philippines. It is where extraordinary men betray their country for a bit of money.
Only the weight of a top celebrity can tip the scales and stop a Binay presidency in 2016. Who will that celebrity be?
Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.
[Photo courtesy Philippine Star.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.