AS ANNOUNCED by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the official election season began last January 10 and will end on June 8 this year. It includes a campaign period starting February and ending in May; election day itself on May 9; the counting of the ballots; and the official proclamation of the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates and their inauguration.
Some cynical souls lament that the results of the triennial exercise—the election of the same scoundrels, incompetents, crooks and clowns and/or their clones—do not justify the 150 days allocated for it. But the unofficial period for campaigning for office is actually far longer, in many cases consisting of the entire three years between congressional and local government elections, and, for the presidential election, the six years during which the previously elected president sits in Malacañang.
SO keenly anticipated by much of the media, the “break” between Vice President Jejomar Binay and President Benigno Aquino III has not come to pass. On the contrary. Despite the attempts of the usual Binay opponents to downplay the subject (they didn’t talk about politics), the supposed awkwardness (it was merely cordial), and even the length of a meeting between Binay and Aquino (it was thirty minutes, not three hours) in the evening of October 14th, judging from what ensued afterwards, that meeting seems to have patched things up between the two.
Besieged by charges of corruption and unexplained wealth, Binay had been calibrating since last year his criticism of the administration of which, by serving as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) and Presidential Adviser on OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Concerns, he is a part.
BECAUSE he thinks his current problems are at least partly the doing of some Aquino administration personalities, among them his putative rival in 2016, Manuel Roxas II, Vice President Jejomar Binay has criticized the administration of which he’s a part—in which he in fact occupies two critical posts, those of chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC), and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns.
In one of those instances demonstrative of the perverse character of the political system, he’s part of the so called opposition while at the same time occupying a Cabinet post in the administration he and his party mates are supposed to monitor and criticize, whose abuses they’re supposed to check, and whose use of power they’re expected to moderate. Binay is both critic and the object of criticism at the same time.
THERE MIGHT very well be a conspiracy afoot to prevent the election of Vice-President Jejomar Binay to the Presidency in 2016. It doesn’t release Binay from the responsibility of credibly answering the accusations that have been hurled against him. But neither should it prevent the media from using the opportunity to provide the public the information and analysis it needs to encourage citizen action against corruption.
The 2016 elections may be all of nineteen months away, but no one will seriously challenge the probability that what’s happening to Binay is a pre-emptive strike intended to steadily erode voter preference for him. Nevertheless, declarations that “it’s just politics” and “selective justice” won’t do, given the seriousness of the charges, and the opportunity they offer for the media to enhance public understanding not only of corruption but also of the exclusionary character of the political system that makes corruption inevitable.
HIS NUMBERS may be falling and those of one of his putative opponents rising, but Jejomar Binay is at this point still the leading candidate for the Presidency in 2016.
Binay still topped the list of preferred presidential candidates in a September 8 Pulse Asia survey despite a sharp decline, from a previous (June 2014) 41 percent, to 31 percent, which, given a margin of error of three points, could either be a high preference number of 34 percent, or a low of 28.
If, like Miriam Defensor Santiago, you’re too busy laughing over Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay’s announcement last Tuesday that he’s available as a candidate for President of this unhappy republic, you might be missing the point.
The chief pol of the United Opposition announced his availability for the 2010 elections in a rally in which, among other highlights, some of his supporters carried streamers declaring him the (Barack) “Obama of the Philippines.”