Little did Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay realize that Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV would accept his challenge to debate. And when Trillanes accepted it, Binay must have panicked and backed out of the debate.
It’s important to note that Binay challenged Trillanes to a debate to bring his case to the people and answer questions about his alleged corruption activities and ill-gotten wealth when he was mayor of Makati City. Obviously, it was a bluff. Binay, a lawyer, was probably thinking that Trillanes, a former naval officer, didn’t stand a ghost of a chance of defeating him in a debate, which is a lawyer’s forte. But Trillanes had one weapon – truth — that he could use to force Binay to a corner and beat him to a pulp.
When Binay backed out of the debate, Trillanes found an opening for an attack. A few days later, Trillanes went on the offensive hitting Binay where it hurts most – his character. He dropped a bombshell by saying that Binay was part of the 2007 conspiracy to oust then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Trillanes was referring to the time when his rebel group, Magdalo, occupied the Peninsula Manila Hotel in Makati City and demanded Gloria to step down.
Trillanes claimed that Binay – who was then mayor of Makati City — reneged on his promise to mobilize his employees, the city’s urban poor, and other supporters to join Trillanes when he walks out of a court hearing that was trying him for the 2003 Oakwood mutiny. But to Trillanes’ surprise, Binay’s supporters did not show up and Binay was nowhere to be found. The rebels then barricaded themselves in the hotel but surrendered when the military was called in.
Later on when Trillanes was detained at Camp Crame, Binay showed up and apologized. Well, apology or no apology, the harm was done. But what was instilled in Trillanes’ mind was that Binay’s decision to back out of the debate says a lot about his character. “In a way, we were expecting this to happen because on those instances, we say that Vice President Binay had no word of honor and that he cannot be trusted. I hope that our people could see his true character” (translated from Tagalog), Trillanes said.
A question of character
Having refused to appear before the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee hearings — which he described as a “kangaroo court” — and backed out of the debate, Binay is going around the country, at taxpayers’ expense, telling the people that all these accusations against him were nothing more than “demolition jobs.” But as Abraham Lincoln once said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time,” Binay is desperately trying — by any means — to shore up his sagging ratings, which had dipped 10% in the last few months.
Indeed, Trillanes hit the nail right on the head when he questioned Binay’s character and trustworthiness. However, I’m sure he’s aware that it’s a dangerous road to take in political campaigns because the outcome could go either way – help or destroy the candidate. But Binay knows it, too, and that’s why he’s trying very hard to gain the people’s sympathy.
A Philippine Inquirer reader, Mario “Yao” Boco from Salcedo, Eastern Samar, wrote a commentary titled “Binay’s only saving grace,” which said: “Ramon Tulfo’s column titled ‘Oplan Nognog just an invention’ (Metro, 10/23/14) confirmed my suspicion that ‘Oplan stop Nognog 2016’ was an idea hatched by Vice President Jejomar Binay’s PR men and was intended to elicit for Binay sympathy or compassion from the “politically vacuous masses,” and consequently gain votes for him as a candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
“When I first read and heard of ‘Oplan stop Nognog 2016,’ I immediately sensed that the word ‘Nognog,’ a funny, charcoal-black comics character that stirs up mixed feelings of ridicule and pity, could be a mere ‘gimmick’ to generate sympathy for Binay, he being dark-skinned. In fact, one of the factors that made the ‘Binays ruled Makati one after the other is because they go to great lengths to emphasize their looks.’
“Little did Binay’s PR men know that by using the same kind of gimmick, they revealed themselves to have run out of ideas to defend and save the Vice President from the avalanche of corruption charges now swamping him. No amount of denials, allusions to political persecution, demolition job, or whatever, will extricate him from the political maelstrom he is in now. Only his presence in the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee hearing, to answer point by point the corruption charges hurled against him, will be his ‘saving grace.’ ”
Serendipity or conspiracy
Binay might have thought what his “saving grace” is going to be? And guess whom did he run into? Grace Poe!
Binay met Grace at a meeting of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) in Tagaytay City last November 13. Grace was a guest of KBP; Binay was an uninvited guest, a “gatecrasher.” Binay claimed that he dropped by the KBP event to formally apologize for backing out of the debate with Trillanes, which the KBP was supposed to organize. However, it’s debatable whether the Binay-Poe meeting was serendipity or a well-orchestrated “chance” encounter – or conspiracy — between Binay and an unsuspecting Grace. As it turned out it was anything but coincidence. Binay later told the media that it was an “impromptu visit.”
And from that “impromptu visit,” a rare photo worth a thousand words was taken of Grace giving Binay a priceless beso-beso. And no sooner had the KBP event ended than rumors started to swirl around of a potential Binay-Poe tandem in 2016. When asked about the “coincidence,” Binay tried to downplay it; however, he admitted that he was open to teaming up with Grace in 2016. Indeed, if Grace agreed to join Binay, it would be a powerful team. Recent surveys show that Binay and Poe are the top picks for president and vice president, respectively.
Although Grace had made it clear that she was not running for president in 2016, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) and the Liberal Party are wooing her to be the running mate of their respective standard bearers.
But many believe that if there was one person who could beat Binay, it’s Grace. And who would be a better running mate of Grace Poe than Sonny Trillanes? Working in tandem, they could give Jojo Binay a run for his money… or should I say, “the people’s money?”