Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 12 March 2016


Jojo Binay had every chance, since the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearings started in mid-2014, to face his accusers and give the public a chance to determine for itself whether he was a corrupt city executive or not. He turned down those chances in favor of press conferences where he entertained no questions. That was his way of exhibiting his vice-presidential airs: How dare the rabble, or anyone else, question the Vice President?

Charges of corruption have hounded him since 1988—28 years ago—when Makati Councilor Roberto Brillante, reportedly an erstwhile friend and supporter, filed graft charges against him based on a 1988 Commission on Audit report regarding “ghost” employees and unexplained cash donations (then Vice Mayor Conchitina Bernardo resigned because she couldn’t stomach what was going on). The Ombudsman then was not as fast as Conchita Carpio Morales is now. It wasn’t until 1994 that Binay and six aides were charged with graft at the Sandiganbayan. True to its reputation for slowness, plus the fact that Binay kept going to the Supreme Court on every legal toehold he could use, the Sandiganbayan, I think (it’s hard for a nonlawyer to go through the legal maze), finally resolved the case after 12 years. And guess what? There was a dismissal. Why am I not surprised?

But what should give us pause, particularly those who think he should be president, is his management style: “But soon enough, former supporters of Binay began parting ways with him, insisting that the mayor didn’t welcome criticism, controlled the council, and entered into corrupt deals. One of them lamented the absence of debates in the council, saying, ‘Walang debate, kindatan lang’ (We don’t debate, we just wink at each other).”

Comes now another COA report, 2016 this time.  Which states that Binay pere and fils unlawfully approved at least P14 billion worth of supplemental budgets that were for multimillion-peso infrastructure projects that were not contained in the city’s annual procurement plan. I guess this is an example of kindatan at its most lucrative, and he has had all those years to perfect it.

Isn’t it ironic that a lifetime ban on government service has been imposed on Binay fils by Ombudsman Carpio Morales, while Binay pere who has been there much longer is allowed to run for president? The Ombudsman says that he cannot be charged even if she wanted to, by virtue of his position as Vice President and the fact that it is so close to Election Day.

What if, heaven forbid, he is elected president? Who will have the courage to press charges against him? And if anyone who should be so brave arises, there is also the fact that as president, he will be appointing 10 associate justices of the Supreme Court up to 2022. Kindatan will raise its ugly head again.  And corruption will enter a new phase never before felt in the Philippines. Binay’s mastery of turning “prosecution” into “persecution” will once again have triumphed.

Aside from the supposed corruption amounting to plunder magnified ten- or twenty-fold, Binay has been caught red-handed with lying. He has a political ad where his mother is said to have died because she had no money for medicines. Then in the first presidential debate held in Cagayan de Oro and in other occasions, he claimed that the land he owns was inherited—from both parents. How can he claim to have been so poor that his mother died for lack of medicine, and at the same time claim to have inherited valuable land from both his father and mother? Which is the truth?

Former vice mayor Ernesto Mercado supplied me with the following information (remember that he and Binay parted ways after 20 years of being closer than kin):

Binay did inherit a 2-hectare farm lot in Cabagan, Isabela, from his mother (present value: about P500,000 to P700,000 per hectare), and a 7-hectare lot in San Pascual, Batangas, from his father (present value: P3 million per hectare). So that puts paid to his poverty story.

And while we’re at it, Mercado emphatically states: All other property Binay has, he acquired when he was mayor of Makati. Which, if true, confirms the corruption, because no way could he buy that property on a mayor’s salary, with a large family to support.

How did the corruption start? Mercado: When he took over as Makati mayor, there were contractors with receivables from his predecessor, Nemesio Yabut. They knew they had no chance of getting those receivables. So when they were offered payment so long as  50 percent was given to “SOP,” they grabbed the offer. Better 50 percent than nothing. It is interesting that apparently, Binay didn’t really go “big time” until he linked up with Gerry Limlingan. His SOP, which started at 15 percent, climbed to 28 percent (of which 13 percent was his).

How much did Binay make from corruption? Mercado: Not less than P15 billion.

Well, what was Binay’s legacy to Makati? Mercado: the free movies for senior citizens, the P2,000 doles to them, their birthday cakes, and the free bags and school supplies. Former mayors Yabut and Maximo Estrella were responsible for the Makati Polytechnic (the forerunner of the University of Makati), the free medicines and hospitalization (there was a contract with Makati Medical Center). He did build the University of Makati building and the Makati Hospital (at great personal benefit, according to the COA). Even the cakes he made money on.

The question to us: Can the country afford a Binay presidency?