Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Binay upset over administration’s loyalty check; LPs perceived as too arrogant and obsessed with destroying enemies, unlike UNA which has an 'open-skies' policy; there’s talk that if CJ Corona's acquitted, Mar Roxas would run for the House in 2013 and seek to capture Speakership as stepping-stone to 2016; but if CJ's convicted, he stays in Cabinet perhaps in hope that with changing of guard at SC, his protest case vs. Binay at PET would prosper. Nelson Navarro finishing Binay biography for launch next month.

VP Jejomar Binay has every right to be upset over the administration’s ultimatum that he reveal where he stands on GMA and the Corona impeachment---which, in effect,  serves as a loyalty check. This ultimatim is not unexpected--for as President Noynoy's popularity is beginning to nosedive, the administration understandably has to crack the whip among Cabinet members. But it's also being read as a sign that the Liberal Party is panicking over the recent formation of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) under the aegis of the Veep.

For as Sen. Antonio Trillanes pointed out, if the UNA is now drawing the biggest names in Philippine politics for a team-up for the 2013 elections, it’s due to the fact that the LP has been quite slow in gearing up for 2013. Trillanes has warned that the ruling party, with which he is allied, could lose the Senate to the opposition in those elections. In fact, at the rate the LP's going, it would not surprise anyone if Trillanes himself would seek shelter under the UNA umbrella, for already it's creating a bandwagon.
The pressure on Binay, while not unexpected, is unrealistic. In the first place, he does not owe his election to the LP; in fact his political group helped candidate Noynoy get the runaway majority he claims to have won (which is being disputed by groups opposing the Comelec’s proposed purchase of the notorious PCOS machines of 2010)---not the other way around.  In a Cabinet composed of a lot of non-performers, the VP is perceived as a doer---e.g., to a public already accustomed to waiting for days for P-Noy to arrive at a disaster area with all kinds of excuses for his tardiness, Binay never fails to amaze by showing up the day after the calamity, with trucks of relief goods and even a brass band.  
Aside from his plebeian looks that strike a sympathetic chord with the masa, Binay enjoys a steady acceptance rating hovering at around 84 percent, unlike P-Noy who suffers from a perception of rudderless leadership. As Binay’s rah-rah boys put it, “Binaying” is synonymous with performance, in contrast to “Noynoying” which means doing nothing. 
   A news item earlier reported that the LP is ready to coalesce with the Binay forces for the  mid-term elections, but this may be like closing the barn door after the horses have fled. For in contrast to the UNA whose senatorial slate seems getting more crowded with heavy-weights by the day, the LP seems lonelier and lonelier.  The LP list floated today carried names of some Aquino Cabinet members, Corona impeachment prosecutors notorious for arrogance and self-righteousness, and a couple of candidates defeated in the last elections.
 There are many reasons for the seeming UNA bandwagon, aside from the perception that Binay is a sure candidate for 2016.  For one, the LP seems to have become quite arrogant; and despite its favorite word these days, it's not “inclusive” but divisive, unlike the Binay camp that seems to be opening its doors wide.  Then the LP has been quite vindictive toward those who defy its orders, such as the representatives who refused to sign the impeachment complaint against Corona (e.g. administration Reps. Toby Tiangco and  Hermilando Mandanas), as well as minority representatives such as Dato Arroyo and Mitos Magsaysay whose PDAFs have been withheld for many months.
 As LP field marshal Butch Abad put it, the ruling party has chosen to channel pork barrel funds directly to the constituents of certain opposition representatives, in order daw to ensure more judicious control over these funds. Yet Abad himself justified the over P800 million he allocated in the past two years to his powerful wife’s tiny province of Batanes, which has only 5,000 voters.
In contrast to tightening on the administration’s opponents, the LPs poured seemingly limitless funding, borrowed from foreign sources which we taxpayers will be paying over a generation, into the Conditional Cash Transfer program---a gargantuan dole-out (P39 BILLION this year and P350 BILLION by 2015) that’s targeting, kuno, the poorest of the poor.  But the super-fast expansion of the CCT has encouraged corruption at both the higher and lower levels of the administering agency, the DSWD, and today at least in many parts of Metro Manila, the CCT has remained suspended since last December, with no explanations.  Apparently it has been a failure in its two years under the P-Noy administration, for as the SWS survey last quarter noted, the percentage of our people who consider themselves poor has jumped from 48 percent in September 2010 to 51 percent.
There is widespread fear, in fact, that these huge CCT funds, which were allocated even as the budgets of government hospitals and state colleges and universities were slashed, would be used by the LPs for the 2013 and 2016 elections.
There’s also the way this administration went after former President GMA and CJ Corona.  As I stated here, there are ways to hold accountable former and current officials accused of  wrongdoing; but the way this administration subjected GMA to such inhumane treatment even before her trial has started and demonized Corona and his family has sown fear and doubtless even hatred in a good number of politicians.  For the final phase of the CJ’s trial, the administration has organized a well-funded campaign by loyalist groups  to dish out anti-Corona propaganda materials in busy districts, apart from stepping up the carpet-bombing in the yellow media.

 Many politicians are quite disturbed at these recent developments, for they realize that if the Chief Magistrate could be savaged as never before for his stand against Hacienda Luisita, what could prevent them from being harrassed too in this manner?    
P-Noy is widely believed to back up his  2010 runningmate, now Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas, who lost the elections, ironically,  due to, among other reasons, the support for his opponent Binay by some close relatives of Noynoy (this was the beginning of the rift between the Balay and Samar groups within the administration). The Wharton-trained  Roxas, who's perceived as bright, competent and prepared for the presidency, is said to be carefully weighing his options these days in the light of Corona’s impeachment trial. Note that Roxas had filed a protest case against Binay over the 2010 vice-presidential elections before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal that’s composed of the 15 SC magistrates, chaired by CJ Corona---doubtless encouraged by the fact that Binay’s lead over him is just over 700,000 votes.  
Talk is that if CJ is acquitted, Roxas would quit the Cabinet and run in 2013 for the House of Representatives and seek, with P-Noy’s full backing, the Speakership---the better to position himself for 2016, instead of waiting for his protest case that may never be resolved favorably.  But if CJ is convicted, talk is that Roxas would stay with the administration, presumably on the assumption that with a friendlier chief magistrate, he stands a fat chance of winning his protest vs. Binay and become VP, and then run for President in 2016.
This brings us back to the question of whether Binay would, as challenged by the P-Noy administration, be a good subordinate and back up his President against Corona, or chart a more independent course, which includes campaigning among his allies in the Senate for CJ. In a speech before an association of judges nationwide last month, the VP, a lawyer, unequivocably stated that he is for the Rule of Law and exhorted his audience to uphold and guard the independence of the Judiciary. 
By the way, noted writer Nelson Navarro, who has carved out a reputation as the biographer of renowned Filipino politicians, is finishing his biography of Jejomar Binay, for launch at the end of May. Expect more political missiles in the Veep’s direction.      



  1. LP is alarmed over the formation of UNA, which is believed to be a formidable political organization in the 2013 midterm elections and 2016 Presidential election.

    The challenge by Budget Sec. Butch Abad and Cavite Cong. and House Prosecutor Manager Jose Abaya to VP Jojo Binay "to lay down his cards to let the public know whether he was supporting the administration’s anticorruption reforms, specifically the prosecution of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the trial of impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona" is a cheap shot. It's a sign of "insecurity, nervousness, and fright." LP is peeved and alarmed over the formation of UNA.

    Of course, Binay won't bite that bait. He will not answer that question. He is not that stupid. And if ever he issues an statement, he will not answer it directly. His answer will still keep the Liberal Party guessing on where he stands. Binay is a wily politician. He plays his cards well. And that's his advantage over President Benigno Aquino III and his LP lapdogs.

    Whether LP stalwarts admit it or not, they are in a panic mode now, because six Senator-judges who are re-electionists are with UNA, leaving only Sen. Sonny Trillanes with LP. A lot of names have been floated as possible LP candidates in the Senate but none of they lack the so-called "winnability."

    If UNA candidates control the Senate and House of Representatives after the 2013 mid term elections, it is an indication that Pres. Benigno Aquino III lost his grip over his political party. It's a clear sign of POLITICAL IMMATURITY.

    And this will signal the downfall of the once powerful Liberal Party.

    As for VP Binay, prepare for the attack dogs of Malacanang. They will be unleashed soon.

  2. Attack dogs of the LP? All bark and no bite. And they will fall fast into irrelevance like their party leaders. This administration will be first to reach lameduck status well before halfway into its term. Onli in da Pilipins!!!