Let the chips fall where they may
I always thought Makati Rep. Abigail “Abby” Binay was the “better behaved” Binay daughter—that is, compared to her older sister Nancy who, even if she is a senator, often comes across as a harridan.
Maybe it’s simply a matter of personality or decorum. Because Nancy, even if she served as her father and mother’s personal assistant in their long years of public service, tends to speak in harsh tones and adopt the stance of what can only be kindly called a “palengkera,” roughly translated into a fishwife.
Abby, I always thought, was cut from a different bolt of cloth and seemed to behave and hold herself with greater dignity, if not pleasant manners. So you can imagine my surprise when reports surfaced of how, in a TV interview, the congresswoman from Makati said that “the Binays will not forgive their critics if Vice President Jejomar Binay gets elected to the presidency.”
Critics of the Binays immediately jumped on this statement, saying it was indicative of how the members of the family would comport themselves if and when their patriarch, the Vice President, wins the 2016 election and emerges president.
Does Abby Binay’s remarks presage a vindictive Binay administration going hammer and tongs against all those who they perceive led the charge against the Vice President and the members of his family, beginning with Makati Mayor Junjun?
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Well, in the first place, says Abby in a public statement, she said no such thing, or at least not in the context of a family vendetta against its critics.
“Inaccurate” and “taken out of context” is how the congresswoman characterizes her alleged “threat” against her family’s critics, beginning with the combative Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.
“It was an emotional moment for me,” admits the Makati representative. “I was speaking from the heart. I only expressed my true feelings about Senator Trillanes, who has been throwing baseless and malicious accusations at our family with utter disregard for due process and with reckless abandon.” The congresswoman emphasizes that her views, especially about her inability to “forgive” her family’s detractors, was her “personal view” and was not intended to “reflect the sentiment of my father and that of our family.”
But even as she admits her emotional outburst and the personal limits of the supposed “vendetta,” Abby Binay still has trenchant words for Trillanes.
The senator, she says, “would do well to exercise prudence and caution in his statements and actuations. He should come out with hard evidence and unimpeachable witnesses to back his allegations, which are very serious and damaging. He has not only tried to destroy the reputation of my father and our family, but has also attacked the very core of the country’s judicial system as a pillar of democracy.”
Wow, them are fighting words! And while I’m inclined, based on earlier allegations and tales of disappointed plaintiffs, to believe the senator’s accusations of justices being paid off to rule in favor of the Binays, I do think he had better live up to his promises of presenting witnesses and proof of his accusations of corruption in the judiciary, the Court of Appeals in particular.
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But in the process of trying to weaken the CA’s position upholding its temporary restraining order on the Ombudsman’s suspension of Mayor Junjun, Trillanes should be aware that he is putting the personal reputations of specific justices on the line, with little but promises of proof to be presented at some later time.
This is not a sweeping accusation against the nebulous institution called “the judiciary.” Trillanes in his public statements has singled out specific CA justices, and so he must back his accusations with specific pieces of proof, detailing exactly how his allegations can be proven true.
And this is not just because he fears Congresswoman Abby’s (or Senator Nancy’s) wrath and continuing enmity, but because, as a public official, he owes the Filipino public sound proof and reasoning before maligning fellow public officials, including the Binays and the concerned CA justices.
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That said, it’s my hope that this standoff between the Office of the Ombudsman and its allies including Trillanes, and the Court of Appeals and the Binays will be settled with finality and clarity, as the ongoing hearings by the Supreme Court indicate.
Most recently, the Supreme Court announced the recusing of several justices due to various reasons, including previous cases involving the Binays.
With these justices supposedly out of the way, can we now hope for the objective and rational settlement of the case, whose decision would establish legal precedence in other current and future corruption cases?
The Office of the Ombudsman, after all, was formed by the framers of the Constitution precisely to go after public officials accused of corruption and other crimes against the body politic. The appellate court’s TRO seems to me at least direct intervention in the clear mandate of the Ombudsman, to investigate charges of corruption and malfeasance against public officials who can very well use their influence and office to thwart the ends of justice.
Congresswoman Abby and the rest of her family are fully justified in nursing hurt feelings and resentment against everyone seemingly working in concert to torpedo the Vice President’s chances of becoming president. But at the same time, they must face the challenge of helping create the democracy their father supposedly champions. And that is by holding back their ire and allowing the chips to fall where they may.
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