Veep plays rich vs poor card
In his effort to bring his case directly to the people, Vice President Jejomar Binay has embarked on grassroots barnstorming to mobilize people power against institutional processes investigating corruption allegations laid against him in the Senate.
In the course of his provincial forays, he has not only brushed aside poll surveys, he has also raised the potentially incendiary class war issue.
The polls purportedly show that 79 percent of respondents want him to appear in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee to defend himself from the alleged overpricing of the construction of the parking building of the Makati City Hall and unexplained assets, including large agribusiness estates in Batangas province, amassed during his term as mayor of Makati City.
In an interview with a radio station in Pagadian City on Friday, Binay accused his opponents in the Aquino administration of allegedly concocting a plot to remove him from office, through impeachment, as well as derail his bid to stand for President in 2016.
He described the plot as a “political” war being waged by the rich against the poor. “The rich do not want people who come from poor families to rise to the highest position in the country,” he said.
According to Binay, the corruption and ill-gotten wealth allegations were part of a plot, called “Oplan Stop Nognog 2016,” to destroy his chances of becoming President in 2016. The “cynical” move was purportedly hatched by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive Liberal Party candidate for President in 2016.
“Nognog” is the name of a small dark boy in a comic strip. Binay claimed the plan was a smear of people of poor origins aspiring for high public office.
“The only ones capable of thinking up ways to sneer and [smear] reputations are rich people like Mar Roxas. You already know this. We are the same, I grew up poor. They don’t want us to be united. They don’t want me to lead the fight against poverty and joblessness,” he said, raising the rich versus the poor issue and 2016 as a grudge fight between him and Roxas, who lost the vice-presidential election to Binay in 2010.
Snub foolish move
As the Senate subcommittee inquiry into charges of alleged ill-gotten wealth continues to receive mounting evidence of unexplained assets accumulation, there are indications that by refusing to attend the hearings, Binay may have deprived himself of a platform from which he could refute the allegations.
The Vice President’s snub of the subcommittee is a self-defeating and foolish tactical move, and the allegations have little chances of being overcome by a boycott.
They will not be swept under the carpet when the panel resumes its hearings. Binay needs to introduce his own evidence to counter the evidence already received by the Senate.
In taking his case directly to the tribunal of public opinion, he is challenging the legitimacy of the institutional legal framework mandated to correct flawed legislation.
He is virtually attempting to mobilize the masses into a new people power to decide the outcome of the case against him before the Senate.
He has been warned by the poll surveys that he is already losing his case before public opinion when polls showed a large majority of respondents want him to attend the hearings.
In ignoring the Senate inquiry, Binay denounced the senators for having prejudged him and for “coddling” his accusers.
As to whether the people in the streets will respond to his call of protest against the Senate inquiry, or will accept him as their champion, remains in doubt.
The poll surveys have repeatedly shown there is a strong public aversion to corruption whether it is rampant on the level of the national administration or local governments.
Aquino not in dock
The issue of Roxas’ involvement in the alleged plot of the rich against Binay, the poor boy catapulted to the commanding heights of political power, has become secondary to the issue of the validity of longstanding institutions through which flaws in the democratic system of checks and balances may be corrected.
After scorning the Senate inquiry, Binay has launched a comprehensive attack on the shortfalls of the Aquino administration, this time on a number of policy issues.
In a speech to Lions Club at the Manila Hotel on Saturday, Binay aggregated what he described as the chief complaints of the public against his detractors who, he said, must address these issues.
Avoiding a head-on collision with President Aquino, Binay summarized the issues facing the government.
“There is a power crisis, the rising prices of oil and other commodities, the rampant crimes plaguing the country, the hellish traffic, unsafe MRT, the recurrent flooding … that we must all prepare for,” he said.
“But instead of giving all their time and thoughts to achieve solutions to these problems, they chose to advance their own interests by destroying my name and loved ones,” he added.
Binay referred to administration allies in the Senate who have mounted the inquiry. He said those members were now using the blue ribbon subcommittee to “unjustly prosecute” him and his family, ostensibly “in aid of legislation,” but actually “in aid of political persecution.”
The Vice President may have correctly catalogued the faults of the administration and its allies, but still the question looms heavily over his head: Is he the better alternative to run the country than the surrogates of Aquino, after the Chief Executive steps down?
It’s not President Aquino in the dock—it is Binay. Whether his summary has enhanced his acceptability as successor to the Aquino administration remains problematic.
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