Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” C. Binay vs. Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Araneta “Mar” Roxas II.
The icon of corruption vs. the poster boy of incompetence and indecisiveness in the BS Aquino administration.
Binay and Roxas are most probably the only choices of some 55 Filipino voters when they decide next year who their next president would be for the next six years beginning July 2016. Out of 100 million Filipinos, people’s choices are down to Binay and Roxas for their next leader.
The choices are bad and unpalatable, according to analysts. This is the first time since 1896 that Filipinos have to choose virtually between the devil and the deep blue sea.
Before this December, voters had more choices, although not necessarily better—neophyte Senator Grace Poe, an independent candidate for president, 20-year Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and sickly Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago.
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, Poe was disqualified by a three-person Second Division of three Commission on Elections commissioners, namely, Al Parreño, chair, and Arthur D. Lim and Sherif M. Abas, members. The panel said the adopted daughter of superstar Fernando Poe Jr. did not satisfy the 10-year residency required of presidents and presidential candidates. It used Poe’s sworn statement (a declaration against interest and therefore, truthful) when she ran for senator in May 2013 that before that date, she had lived for only “6 years and 6 months” in the Philippines. Thus, on election day, May 9, 2015, she would be short by six months for the ten-year residency, reckoned from November 2006. Poe tried to correct this when she filed her certificate of candidacy for president. This time, she claimed a period of residence of 10 years and 11 months. She lied, said the panel which said the senator “deliberately attempted to mislead, misinform or hide a fact from the electorate.”
Poe’s lawyers could appeal to the Comelec en banc. With three commissioners (Parreño, Lim and Abas) already against her, only one vote is needed for the en banc to endorse the Second Division disqualification; 4 to overturn it. The math is compelling. Poe’s lawyers could rush to the Supreme Court to appeal but then several petitions for disqualification on the grounds of lack of residency and not being natural born, are also pending there. In the meantime, Comelec has until Dec. 10, 2015 to finalize the names in the ballots for the May 9, 2016 elections. Poe’s name could be removed from the ballot so that even if she is qualified after all, it would be too late. In the meantime, Poe’s financial backers would be having second thoughts; her followers are demoralized and confused.
For his part, Duterte on Nov. 30 cursed the Pope and in a country that is 84 percent Catholic and where Francis is globally venerated, that’s a no-no. The mayor also announced he has two wives and two current girl friends. The Catholic Church, of course, is aghast. You can be immoral but please don’t flaunt it, at least not on the day of your proclamation as official candidate for president, like what Duterte did. Why did the mayor self-destruct like a suicide bomber?
Thus, 2016 could be a race down the wire between Vice President Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas II of the Liberal Party (LP).
Binay has become the icon of corruption, big-time corruption, and its appurtenant abuses, thanks to a year of rigged Senate hearings on alleged corruption during the 29 years that the Binay family ruled Makati, the Philippines’ premier business city.
For all we know, the Binays are a family of decent, hardworking and honest public servants. They could not have lasted for nearly 30 years had they been that bad. But Jojo must explain properly to Filipino voters how he became a billionaire, rising from the pigsty (he used to feed pigs) and the sacristy (he used to be an altar boy), to the rarified heights of political power and wealth—perhaps the greatest Filipino story of upward social mobility in recent memory.
Roxas, meanwhile, has come to symbolize incompetence and insensitivity and the lack of governance they imply.
Three major disasters brought into sharp relief the incompetence and insensitivity of the BS Aquino administration—Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, the strongest typhoon in the world to make landfall, of Nov. 8, 2013 wherein 11 million were affected, 1.9 million were rendered homeless, and more than 6,300 died; the 20-day Zamboanga siege of September 2013 wherein more than 200 died and 10,000 homes were burned by the military (the equivalent of razing the entire city of San Juan, Metro Manila); and the Mamasapano Massacre of January 2015 wherein 44 elite police commandos were killed mercilessly in broad daylight as Aquino and his cohorts monitored the battle a few kilometers away.
At least 10,000 people died in the wake of Yolanda but the administration reckons only 6,300 dead. Half of the missing were children. Yolanda caused damage of at least $2 billion. Government was slow to respond, weeks after the typhoon struck.
The rule on counting bodies was rather ironclad—if you cannot produce the body, then nobody died. Of course, relatives could not produce the cadavers, because they were washed away into the ocean, eaten up by storm surges.
BS Aquino went to the storm area several days after and was confronted by angry victims. “You are still alive, aren’t you?” he snapped back at a businessman complaining of massive looting and menacing looks of looters. “You are a Romualdez and this is an Aquino!” Mar Roxas told the Tacloban City mayor who wanted to take charge of relief operations and money, a video that went viral.
In Manila, the Philippines acquired the reputation of having the worst traffic, the worst mass transit system, and the worst airport in the world. All three areas are the responsibility of Aquino’s Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Aguinaldo Abaya.
Abaya became a legend for four reasons—he allowed a cabal of incompetent and corrupt people to take over management of the MRT3, the rail system serving west of Manila, along Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, for billions of reasons; he dismissed Metro Manila’s traffic as not “fatal”; he allowed incompetent and corrupt officials to take over the Land Transportation Office which quickly went into various rackets—new car plates for all vehicles, old and new, for P400 each, without issuing the car plates. Aside from this, car plates and driver’s licenses fully paid for could not be issued; there is a patently illegal motor vehicle insurance monopoly; and professional drivers are required to get three kinds of time-consuming and costly clearances—police, National Bureau of Investigation, and barangay—before they could apply for a driver’s license.