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There’s The Rub

Inherit the wind

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With friends like this, who needs enemies?

That’s the question Jojo Binay is probably asking himself after Ernesto Maceda said what he did last Saturday: A vote to acquit Renato Corona today would be a vote to make Binay president tomorrow.

Maceda argued thus: “If you’re for Binay for president for 2016, you’ll probably vote for acquittal. Why? Because if Corona is convicted, that strengthens Noynoy and a stronger Noynoy means stronger support for his [anointed] candidate. If Corona is acquitted, that will be the start of the downturn of Noynoy Aquino’s popularity. He becomes ‘weaker’ and his candidate becomes weaker.”

Binay’s camp has vehemently denied Maceda’s view of (political) life, saying that is his personal opinion. He is a newspaper columnist, after all, and has expressed those views repeatedly in his writings. True, but that only shows the pitfalls of an anomalous situation in this country where political players also get to have jobs in the media. It’s unethical. You can’t be simultaneously the observer and the observed, the analyst and the analyzed, the judge and the judged. Maceda is one of the key figures of UNA.

Quite apart from that, though he has readily expressed his support for P-Noy, Binay himself hasn’t been as forthcoming about his support for the President’s crusade to fight corruption. A chief component of which is removing the one formidable obstacle that remains in the path of prosecuting Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is Corona. Binay has said, of course, that he is all for the impeachment process and will let it run its course, but that is a far cry from the days when he showed exceptional zeal in fighting Ferdinand Marcos and Arroyo. You remember that his position on the Marcos burial as well was first to make consultations and second to make compromises. Which brings up the question: Is Binay getting conservative, if not reactionary, as he gets nearer the presidency?

What’s wrong with Maceda’s own comments is—everything.

It’s trapo to the core. It reminds you that the best mayor Manila ever had, and the best president this country never had, Arsenio “Arsenic” Lacson, directed his most arsenic remarks at Maceda. “So young and so corrupt.” What can one say? So old and still so corrupt. Even if by corrupt now, you mean the corruption of the soul more than the body. You remember as well that his claim to fame when he was a senator was calling for a Senate investigation of an issue of vital, life-and-death consequence for the nation: the Brunei Beauties.

Maceda’s argument is specious. It assumes that the voters are as cynical as he and see the impeachment only in terms of electoral opportunity, or how it will impact on the fortunes of the presidential candidates in 2016. Or indeed in 2013, which will be the proxy war for the 2016 election. In fact, to go by the public perception of Corona, as seen in the surveys, which would have compelled any public official with a shred of decency to resign long ago, the public has much emotional investment in this. Indeed, to go by the public perception of P-Noy, as seen as well in the surveys, which would make any president with any shred of reform in his mind to burn with greater zeal, the public feels it has much at stake here.

Why should the equation be Corona wins, P-Noy loses, and his anointed loses? Why shouldn’t it be Corona wins, P-Noy loses—and his anointed (in 2016 and 2013) wins? As a matter of public, or voter, protest? That in fact seems the more likely scenario. If Corona wins, that makes the most disliked current chief justice and the most disliked living ex-president free to torment the citizens all over again. Or gloat over the futility of their efforts to get rid of them. Why should the public, turned voters next year, just shrug its shoulders and say “Renato and Gloria have won, we’ll just vote for the people who made them win”? Why shouldn’t the public, turned voters in 2016, be stoked to fury and say, “Renato and Gloria have won, we’ll make sure the people who made them win pay”?

Binay himself has seen what oppression can do. It can thrust its perceived victims from the lowest rungs of the campaign ladder to the very top of it—all the way to vice presidency.

A vote for Corona is a vote for Binay? Maceda has just linked the fortunes of the one public official who has been getting the highest approval rating in the surveys with those of the one person who has been getting the lowest. He has just rallied the more reform-minded Filipinos against his boss. No wonder Binay is hopping mad.

But the political fortunes of the candidates, senatorial or presidential, next year or four years from now, is the least of our worries. Which is what really sucks about Maceda’s remarks. Corona wins, and, true enough, it makes it the hardest thing in the world to prosecute Arroyo. True enough, it weakens P-Noy and the government he leads. Who the hell cares if that makes his anointed win or not in 2013 and 2016? Corona wins, the country loses. Arroyo wins, the country loses. The anticorruption campaign loses, the Filipino loses. P-Noy loses, the Pinoy loses.

This is our last chance to clean up the country. We won’t get another. We won’t get another president who was never so obsessed about the presidency he would sacrifice everything to get there. We won’t get another president who has shown an epic resolve to fight corruption he would take on a corrupt cabal of judges themselves to do it. We won’t get another president who has the people squarely behind him in a vital, life-and-death battle, against the Padre Faura Uglies and their benefactor who is even more so.

And you wallow in only who will win in 2016 as a result of this? You buy Maceda’s thinking, the Pinoy won’t inherit the earth.

The Macedonians will.


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