Aquino and Binay, invincible together

Some people are mongering a war between President Noynoy Aquino and Vice President Jojo Binay. I believe, however, that a political confrontation will not benefit either or both of them, or the country. Quite the contrary, I think their continued partnership is best for both and for the nation. Together, they are invincible.

NoyBi team. Although he ran and won in the last election as a partner of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, Binay was never antagonistic to P-Noy. He has always attributed his political rise to P-Noy’s mother, former President Cory Aquino, who named him mayor of Makati in 1986. In turn, he never tired of defending President Cory, to the extent of sporting a submachine gun during several coup attempts against her, earning the sobriquet of “Rambotito.”

Binay has never unhitched his political star from the Aquinos. Even his phenomenal vice presidential victory was partly due to his association with the so-called “Samar faction” of the Aquino campaign that openly supported a “NoyBi” team. Given this political reality, P-Noy named the Vice President to his Cabinet as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and, concurrently, as presidential adviser on OFW concerns.

In managing these seemingly innocuous offices, Binay has demonstrated adept political instincts. He has always credited and thanked P-Noy for his stratospheric ratings in Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, saying: “If it were not for the trust of the President, I would not have been given the chance to help our overseas Filipino workers, and to help address the country’s housing needs.”

As housing czar, Binay enables millions of Filipinos to own homes in many simple but creative ways. Enlarging his folksy success in serving the people of Makati and Metro Manila, he has stretched the lean resources of government to maximize benefits to the 10 million Pag-Ibig members.

2013 elections. Warmongers say that a split between the two is inevitable because they have opposing interests in the 2013 senatorial elections. On the contrary, I believe their interests intertwine. For one thing, both believe in supporting the reelectionist senators: Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda, Aquilino Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV.

A coalition between the Liberal Party (LP) and the Union of Nationalist Alliance (Una) is most logical. Binay has made known his presidential ambitions in 2016. On the other hand, no LP leader has signified any presidential designs. LP president Mar Roxas has disavowed interest in the top post. As party chair, P-Noy could persuade the LP to embrace the Vice President, who would by then be known as his indispensable partner in successfully leading the nation.

Warmongers claim that Binay wants Chief Justice Renato C. Corona retained, contrary to P-Noy’s announced desiderata to oust him. In unequivocal terms, the Vice President has denied this canard, saying that the impeachment trial is a “test of our democracy” that should be decided “fairly and impartially.”

To say that a vote for Corona’s acquittal is a vote for Binay is a craven insult to both the senator-judges and the Chief Justice. The Senate Rules require the senators’ “political neutrality,” that is, “without unfair discrimination and regardless of party affiliation or preference.”

That impeachment is a political process merely means that the senators would decide according to what is best for the people. While conceding that impeachment is a “political process,” Corona has nonetheless avowed his faith in the basic fairness of the Senate and his willingness to abide by its judgment. So, it is a monumental insult to link impeachment to partisan whims and alignments.

Indelible communality. Beyond unstable political alliances, P-Noy and VP-Nay have an indelible commonality in fighting the Marcos dictatorship, in defending and promoting human rights, in opposing and defeating the Arroyo presidency and in winning the people’s trust. More important, Binay supports the President’s twin program of “kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” P-Noy, in turn, acknowledges the Vice President’s capacity and sincerity in propelling his administration.

Binay is politically astute enough to know that early birds do not always catch the worms. Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos and P-Noy himself were latecomers who won the presidency over those who campaigned long before them.

The latest opinion polls show that our people value the endorsement of both Binay and P-Noy. But P-Noy has additional weapons. Historically, candidates endorsed by incumbent presidents invariably win midterm elections because our people want to give new presidents the political muscle to implement their programs of government. Local officials—governors, mayors, councilors and barangay leaders—gravitate to incumbent presidents who dispense government logistics indispensable in winning elections.

Indeed, the continued alliance between the two highest officials is good for the country. Unity is needed to fight corruption and to alleviate the grinding poverty of our people.

On the other hand, an unnecessary war of attrition will be costly to both and will deflect much needed time, resources and attention from the essential war on corruption and poverty. Despite occasional intrigues and wayward schemes of warmongers, our two leaders, I hope, will continue their partnership of shared vision and common mission for our country and people.

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