If at the outset the presidential ambition of Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay is saddled with much doubt on his integrity, particularly on the unexplained wealth hurled against him and his family, then that portends an ominous cloud that the Filipino people are just about to jump from the frying pan to the fire. The charges are pretty serious that he simply cannot ignore them by giving the usual retort that they are politically motivated. Should he continue to exhibit defiance, he might as well kiss goodbye his monumental ambition.
Maybe the Vice President has the right to say that the current barrage against him are merely black propaganda to derail his candidacy, but propaganda or otherwise, Binay needs to squarely answer them before the bar of public opinion because it will be the same public who will determine whether he is fit for the public office he aspires right now. How he astronomically acquired those wealth is something the taipans and the top-money makers in this country would envy and even seek his advice.
The Binay’s conduct of acting like a maharajah awaiting to be enthroned to power and the revelation about his web of corruption while inching his way to become President are worrisome. Among the properties attributed as owned by him and his family are: 1) a 400-hectate farm in Rosario, Batangas; 2) a 40-hectarte air-conditioned piggery farm in Bauan, Batangas; 3) 10-hectares mango farm orchard; 4) two condominium units worth 30 million which allegedly are not disclosed in his SALN; 5) a three-storey mansion with an elevator in Banuyo Street, San Antonio Village, also not disclosed in his SALN; 6) house and lot in Orbit Street, Bel Air Village, also not disclosed in his SALN; 7) house and lot in Palm Village, Guadalupe Viejo, also not disclosed in his SALN; 8) rest house in Tali beach ,Batangas; 9) rest house in Puerto Azul, Cavite; 10) rest house in Tagaytay Highlands, Cavite; 11) rest house in Alfonso, Cavite; 12) rest house in Zambales; 13) rest house in Pangasinan; 14) undisclosed houses located in Parañaque, Pasig, Mandaluyong and Muntinlupa; 15) charges that his wife, Dr. Elenita Binay and her “amigas” hired about 600 “ghost” employees costing the city government P3 million a month for their alleged salary; 16) a charge also against Binay’s wife for graft in the public bidding for the awarding of supply contract amounting P72.06 million; 17) graft case for which Elenita Binay together with businessmen Li Yee Shing, Jason Li and Vivian M. Edurise, and Ernesto Aspillaga’s were supposed to be arraigned by the Sandiganbayan’s 4th Division on January 18, 2008 for the anomalous purchase of office fixtures and furniture’s for the Makati City Hall from the Office Gallery International worth P13.25 million overpriced by P3.6 million; 18) bogus charity project-40 million (sister cityhood); 19) bogus charity project-27 million calamity fund to other provinces; 20) bogus charity project-22 million Lakbay Aral Package; 21) bogus charity project-20 million ambulance for other cities; 22) 230 million Infor-mercial in TV 2009 using the Makati Foundation Day Funds; 23) 15 million-Komiks for Vice President campaign; 24) Security Services Company contracted by City Hall believed to be owned by his son, etc.
Maybe most of them remain unfounded that may even be dismissed by the courts. But as a candidate for the presidency with his entire family dragged into a seemingly syndicated and deeply entrenched web of corruption, Binay has to answer them, for ultimately it is his integrity that will be measured whether he would be able to live up as an honest public servant. If ever he wins, just the same the people will be the ultimate loser because they elected another who, like his predecessor, also pretended to be honest.
By barricading himself with all those silly defenses intended to skirt those serious allegations, he only contributed to heighten public suspicion which like an ebola virus has now become viral in the social media. His desperate attempt to elevate to the Supreme Court the Senate inquiry and the claim by a lawyer that as Vice President he is immune from criminal suit is plain nonsense. That claim is far out because the issues he faces have yet to ripen to one of formal charge to make operable Section 3 (2) of Article XI of the Constitution. He can never accuse the Senate of engaging in “fishing expedition.” Rather, for presenting himself as a candidate, he automatically made his life one of public concern for which the public ought to know not just on what he accomplished, but on what has he done to enrich himself and his family.
Invariably, as he continues to defy the Senate, public suspicion is heightened that indeed he and his family is what we might call one “buwig” of rotten bananas ready to ensnare the 100 million Filipinos into another round of penurious good-for-nothing administration. His duty to answer is a moral obligation to the people to clear, not acquit, himself. He cannot even claim the defense of having the right to remain silent because he is both a public figure and an ambitious candidate, and the people have every right to know who he is, including what’s inside his mind and in his soul.
It is even demagogic and stupid to claim that his election could effectively acquit him of all those suspicions about his integrity. As the saying goes, “it is better not to be elected than to be elected only to be kicked out unceremoniously by the very people who elected him.” Such impression of him as the most generous mayor of Makati will not help because that generosity which says “ganito kami sa Makati” projects the belief of him playing the role of modern day Robin Hood. Such equation is patently wrong because of the enormous wealth he accumulated, that by all indication was acquired by him when he hit the jock pot of being appointed mayor of Makati even portraying the role of that Hollywood-created character Rambo or “Rambotito.”
Moreover, for the High Court to stop the Senate inquiry could reduce again our magistrates to insolent clowns, for it would be the court that would be interfering on the rightful domain of the Senate to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation. The High Court can only prevent the Senate from carrying out an inquiry if a formal complaint of graft and corruption and possible plunder has been filed against Binay and his family. Binay can never seek the help of the court to help him suppress the right of the people to know. His vindication could only come if what has been alleged against him in the Senate inquiry turned out to be false and intended to smear his reputation. There the court can proceed to penalize his detractors in a case he might file against them for libel.