The Binay conundrum

BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

In a nation of crabs, a political stock that soars is often met with a volley of darts and arrows. Think Oca Orbos, the brightest political name in the early 90s, and how a conspiracy managed to irreparably damage what could have been an ascent to the presidency.

Of course, Oca himself—his bent and his mindset and his genetics—was part of the reason why he did not become president.

He was too decent for politics. His late father wanted his sons to be priests, and not lawyers and politicians. Oca saw politics not as a blood sport but rather a pure form of civic duty. In the Philippines and elsewhere, you cant be president with this kind of predisposition and mind frame.

Currently, a posse of political crabs has another target—Vice President Jejomar Binay. This posse is intensely after him, and wants to bring down crashing to cruel earth Binay’s soaring political stock.

But—as this posse is finding out—this is easier plotted than done because of two things, namely:

1. The “ how” is a big problem
2. And, Binay, who practices politics as a blood sport, is of tough stuff

The “ how” of destroying Binay with the agenda of crippling him before the 2016 presidential campaign, is constrained by this factor: Binay is not an enemy of the Aquino political camp. At his worst, Binay is a prodigal son. There are enduring stories indelibly linked to the late Cory Aquino’s presidency and one of this is Jojo Binay as Rambotito, the olive-clad and fully armed Jojo Binay ready to die in defense of the late President Cory.

There is no proof of loyalty more dramatic than this. And the plotters against Jojo Binay, whenever they are carried away by irrational exuberance, are reminded of Rambotito during the perilous years of the Cory Aquino presidency.

Going against Binay with full force and using all the ammunitions of the new dispensation may, in the end, not sit well with the Aquino family. This is something the detractors of Binay know fully well. This injects an element of caution into the get-Jojo plot.

The gloves can’t be off, the get-Binay move cannot be done heedlessly and recklessly.

The toughness of Binay has been underestimated by his opponents and detractors time and again. To their great woe, of course. The belief that Binay is an easy target may have stemmed from several factors: his long list of mestizo detractors have not been impressed by his size and skin tone. He carries around no intellectual air. He does not swagger and prance around like a king of his city.

A long list of mestizos—from the sons of the late Mesyong Yabut to Bobby Brilliantes to Edu Manzano—all fell for this “Binay is a puny pansy” theory. In the end, as the battlefield accounting of losses is made, what remains are the wasted bodies of the mestizo-detractors.

A little bit of contemporary political history will tell us one thing: that of the original OIC mayors appointed by Nene Pimentel as minister of local government in early 1986 for Metro Manila mayoral posts, only Binay never lost an election. In fact, most of the OIC appointees in 1986 have had dismal political careers. Let us take the three largest and oldest cities of Metro Manila: Manila, Quezon City and Kaloocan City.

In Manila, Mel Lopez won in his first election bid for mayor of Manila in 1988—the first local election under the new Constitution. But I don’t think he got re-elected. Same with Brigido “Jun” Simon Jr., who won in 1988 in Quezon City but lost in his re-election bid. Dr. Antonio Martinez, who was OIC mayor of Kaloocan City, lost in his first attempt to get elected in 1988.

The other OIC mayor who served three straight terms as mayor was Toting Bunye of Muntinlupa. But Bunye lost in his congressional try after leaving City Hall.

Binay’s political success and longevity cannot be solely attributed to saintly practices and good governance—though Binay practiced some of it. After becoming OIC of Makati City in 1986, Binay studied the iron grip of the mayor he replaced—Nemesio Yabut—over Makati politics.

He did not go to the UP NCPAG to immerse himself in theories. He did not go to the fancied schools of
governance based in the US. What he did was to study the political power structure of Makati, the vote delivery system, the political fiefdoms at the ward and grass roots level.

What Mesyong Yabut did, Binay improved on. Mesyong Yabut was tough, toughened by his being terminal king at unruly South Harbor, and the tough life at an impoverished coastal barrio in Pampanga.
Binay also had that hardscrabble beginning, but was toughened further by the long years of fighting the Marcos dictatorship.

Binay’s training as a lawyer, academic etc., provided him with the intellectual framework to complement his street smarts and savvy. He actually gave a sense of finesse and sophistication to the political operations of Mesyong Yabut—and this was the key to his virtual stranglehold over Makati politics.

So this is the Binay his detractors are up against. I just hope they would not fall for the “Binay is a puny pansy” narrative. The debris of failed mestizos littering the political landscape of Makati should be instructive.

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