September 15, 2021 at 12:00 am
J.A. Dela Cruz
"The entire operation smelled like the hatchet job the Binay camp decried it to be."
A number of our listeners in our daily radio program Karambola over DWIZ 882 voiced suspicion that there is more political work than honest investigation in the ongoing Senate Blue Ribbon investigation over the P42 Billion DOH-PS/DBM fund transfer-cum-procurement controversy now focused on the Pharmally medical supplies issue. This Blue Ribbon inquiry, one listener noted, is slowly but surely eerily looking like the Binay Senate investigation a year before the 2016 elections.
That time, then Vice President Jojo Binay and his son, then incumbent Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay, together with a number of City Hall officials were accused by a former Makati councilor of plunder for alleged overpricing in the construction of the new Makati City Hall and two school buildings.
Coming at it did just less than a year before the 2016 presidential elections, Binay and his supporters decried the investigation was “pure and simple political harassment”—a hatchet job—as he was then leading in almost all polls on voter preference for the next head of state.
Indeed, at that time, the public was just about ready to accept Binay as PNoy’s successor, having decisively bested the Palace candidate, then Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, PNoy’s running mate in 2010. Binay was well on his way to Malacañang. Then the investigation cropped up with such force and brazenness that the public could smell a political hatchet job miles away.
But that public perception was somehow blocked out by the fact that the charge was being supported by Binay’s former vice mayor, confidant and perceived bagman, Cadio Mercado. By coming out with the nitty gritty details of the alleged controversial transactions, complete with a number of “showbiz” style narratives, it certainly became a top grosser, so to speak. It was then that the entire operation smelled like the hatchet job the Binay camp decried it to be.
Obviously that job was meant to bring Binay’s numbers down and lift that of the Palace candidate, then Interior Secretary Roxas, whom Binay bested in the 2010 elections. The rest, as they say, is now history. Binay’s numbers went down as election day approached, Roxas’ went up but not enough to overcome then Mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte.
That 2016 experience now colors the ongoing Pharmally centered inquiry. But this time with a twist as the target, if we go by the caller’s thinking, is not the preferred presidential candidate.
Instead, it will be the sitting president himself, President Duterte, to ensure that his endorsing power will be so degraded it will almost be nil by the time election day comes.
Well, we will soon see if history repeats itself in 2022.