They were an unlikely couple to begin with so it is not surprising their paths should eventually diverge.
One is a man born into aristocracy and wealth, the other a product of the crowd.
One was a reluctant candidate, the other always dreamt of the post.
One was a political neophyte, the other the consummate politician.
One is a man of the moment, the other of the future.
They are almost a generation apart.
They are linked by a common relationship now gone, tied at the hip not by kinship, past or ideology but by political circumstance. The elder is described as a friend of the family, emphasis on the collective. They should never have been together but the nation willed that it be so.
For P-Noy and Jojo the time is soon when they may have to go their own ways. As Bismark said, in politics there are no permanent friendships, only permanent interests.
The first sign of this was the announcement PDP-Laban, the VP’s party, will coalesce with Erap’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) and members of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, the late party of GMA; to form the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in next year’s senatorial elections.
Liberal Party spokespersons Butch Abad and Rep. Joseph Abaya challenged the UNA (i.e. Binay) to publicly disclose its agenda particularly with respect to CJ Corona and ex-President GMA.
Malacanang was quick to say the VP remains a valued member of the team but is anybody listening? When Abad speaks, he thus so for the President. Butch’s was a shot at Jojo’s bow.
After two years in the shadows, Binay has come out of the closet. A master of timing, he kept to his post-election promise the President could sleep well at night but the hour has come to make his move. The stars seem aligned in his favor.
His popularity continues to be in the mid-80’s, consistently higher than the President’s.
Despite continuing high marks, P-Noy is somewhat vulnerable. The economy is prospering but the benefits have not seeped quickly enough to the masses. The energy crisis in Mindanao is taking its toll. High gas prices are being (unfairly) laid at Malacanang’s table. The impeachment has consumed Presidential capital. By not resigning, Corona did not follow Malacanang’s script.
It is said Binay wants the CJ acquitted. The latter currently chairs the Presidential Election Tribunal which is deciding Mar Roxas’ challenge for the VP slot. Rep. Abigail Binay-Campos, Jojo’s daughter, did not sign the impeachment articles.
This is the math.
With Sen. Miriam’s election to the International Court in the Hague and the vacant seat left by P-Noy, there are possibly 14 seats to be filled next year. Five of the incumbents –Angara, Arroyo, Lacson, Pangilinan and Villar- cannot run because of two term limits. This leaves Legarda, Estrada, Pimentel, Trillanes, A. Cayetano, Escudero and Honasan seeking re-election. They are vying for the limited seating in either the LP slate or the UNA coalition.
Rep. Sonny Angara (vice his father), Alan Cayetano, Trillanes and Cynthia Villar (vice-her husband) are reportedly in the LP short list.
Pimentel and Estrada are in the UNA slate, with Legarda a good possibility. Honasan is still without a ride.
If “his” UNA Senators follow his cue, Binay could on paper determine the CJ’s fate by marshaling the Arroyo, Marcos, Legarda, Estrada, and Pimentel votes. Include Honasan if invited to the UNA party. To reach the magic 8, only two are then needed from the politically uncommitted, namely Escudero, Sotto, Santiago, Lapid, Revilla, Cayetano (2 votes), Villar or Enrile.
Escudero will be courted by both sides but he has a history with Noy-Bi. JPE’s son, Jack, is rumored to be angling for a UNA seat. Alan Cayetano is on both the LP and UNA lists. Manny Villar said his wife Cynthia will run under the NP which he heads. Santiago is Santiago. The arithmetic to acquit is there.
The question is whether, with four years to go, Binay wants to take on the President on a matter as sensitive as the CJ. More than with GMA, the feud between P-Noy and Corona is deeply personal. Jojo is too smart to totally burn his bridges with his boss. He also does not need to, playing the dutiful subordinate has served him well with the public.Will the VP indeed be a valuable member of the Administration team?
Binay will claim he is hands-off on the impeachment, that the Senators will vote their conscience; and somehow hope that sticks.
In whatever case, the VP has declared himself his own man. He may not lay down his markers for Corona but he will certainly use them to extract concessions. He has a number of cases pending with the Ombudsman.
The 2016 Presidential elections have begun.