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Is Binay P-Noy’s friend or foe?

/ 12:11 AM March 24, 2015

Mar Roxas as the running mate of Vice President Jejomar Binay in next year’s presidential election? That’s a joke, of course, with Binay himself as the joker. But nobody is laughing. The people are jeering.

A few days ago, Binay announced that his running mate would be Roxas. But behind the bad joke is a terrible truth. With all the graft and corruption charges against him and his family, nobody in his right mind wants to touch him with a 10-foot pole.

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He had tried the same stunt with other people close to him: Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero and Darlene Berberabe, chair of the Pag-Ibig Fund. He was in earnest then. Apparently, he thought that any one of them could revive his flagging popularity, save his candidacy and give it a much-needed boost. (Never mind the latest Pulse Asia survey. Binay’s rating rose because he is the only declared presidential candidate. Nobody else has made such a declaration.) But that’s not what the three think about the offer. At this stage, Binay is beyond help. He is on a tailspin, and they’re not going down with him.

Not even Chiz took the bait. In fact, the senator wants the people to forget that he endorsed Binay in the 2010 elections, which contributed to his victory. No way will Chiz sacrifice his political career this time.

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As for Berberabe, well, there’s a limit to friendship and loyalty. Yes, she is the president of Pag-Ibig Fund, courtesy of Binay, but she is not stepping into the same cesspool with someone facing plunder charges,

As for Poe, she won’t take Binay as her vice presidential candidate if she ever runs for the highest post in the land.

Charges of graft and corruption are raining down on Binay and his family. They are even at risk of being arrested for plunder for which no bail is allowed, but that does not prevent the Vice President from assuming a holier-than-thou stance. He has called on President Aquino to apologize for the Mamasapano massacre. It is a trap to lead P-Noy to a deeper hole from which he may not be able to extricate himself.

The President has already owned up to his responsibility, even saying that he will bear the memory of the tragedy to his dying day. So what exactly does Binay, who pretends to be an ally, want P-Noy to do? Like other observers, I can only surmise that Binay, by urging P-Noy to admit his culpability, is leading him to lay the premise for a criminal case against him when he leaves office a year from now and he is no longer immune from criminal charges as president. Either that, or Binay wants P-Noy to incriminate himself and thus strengthen the impeachment move against him.

In other words, the guy is now moving in on an ally who, he thinks, is mortally wounded.

The supposed culpability of the President lies in the fact that he bypassed the Philippine National Police officer in charge Leonardo Espina and dealt directly with the then Special Action Force commander Getulio Napeñas through the then suspended PNP chief Alan Purisima. He broke the chain of command, his critics say, never mind that the tragedy can be attributed to Napeñas’ failure to coordinate Oplan Exodus with the military, as the President had ordered him to do.

But there was no chain of command to break in the PNP, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The President can give orders directly to any subordinate, she says.

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In a position paper, the justice secretary maintains that the chain of command is a military construct that does not apply to the PNP, which is a civilian organization. She adds that the President can give orders directly to any officer to perform any legal task without violating the law.

“The President’s authority over the PNP is as chief executive, not as commander in chief,” says De Lima.

Others may not agree, but clearly that is the collective stand of the administration. De Lima is the President’s alter ego in the matter of the Constitution and the law, and her pronouncements are binding on other Cabinet members. If Binay finds it wrong—and apparently he does—then the honorable thing for him to do as a Cabinet member is to resign.

Come to think of it, he should have done that a long time ago.

* * *

Meanwhile, people are talking a about a full-page advertisement in the Inquirer signed by a group of retired military officers endorsing former senator and PNP chief Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Grace Poe as presidential-vice presidential teammates in 2016.

But Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago quickly endorsed businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan as presidential candidate—that is, if she herself does not run. Pangilinan said he is flattered but that he is not a politician.

Meanwhile, former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada told friends urging him to run again for the top post that he would make a decision if his rating in the surveys on the presidential derby climbs to 20 percent. (He is now in fourth place.) If not, he would run for reelection as Manila mayor. Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, touted as the next mayor of the city, wants to run for senator instead.

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TAGS: Benigno Aquino III, Chiz Escudero, Darlene berberabe, Grace Poe, Isko Moreno, Jejomar Binay, Joseph Estrada, Manuel V. Pangilinan, Mar Roxas, Miriam Defensor Santiago, panfilo lacson
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