Binay resigns: Aquino’s free-fall starts June 25, 2015 11:14 pm

President BS Aquino 3rd, or his sidekick Mar Roxas, went too far in their attempts to take Vice President Jejomar Binay out of the presidential race. Maybe too early, and that smear campaign will prove to be this Administration’s unraveling.

The man got fed up, or perhaps as a veteran politician simply had a good sense of timing. He resigned from Aquino’s student-council government, and has come out fighting. It could mark the start of Aquino’s free-fall, as a similar incident did for Estrada in 2000.

Going by Filipinos’ political psychology and the country’s political dynamics, Aquino is in big trouble, that he might not even be able to finish his term.

If I were a mythmaker, I’d even say that a vice president’s resignation has been the letters on the wall for a President’s fall. Then Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo – saying to hell with then President Estrada’s popularity – resigned her Cabinet post in October 2000.

Three months later, he fled Malacañang.

Estrada tried desperately to downplay Arroyo’s resignation that I think his operators managed to get the Social Weather Station (SWS) to report that her satisfaction ratings had plunged to negative 4 in December from 63 the month before – a statistical impossibility, but a fallacy believed by many political strategists. (By March, it was 24.)

There are, of course, counter-examples. Vice Presidents Fernando Lopez, Salvador Laurel and Teofisto Guingona all had become antagonistic to their Presidents and resigned their Cabinet posts. Their Presidents, though, (Marcos, Aquino and Arroyo, respectively) all finished their terms, except, of course, for Marcos who was ousted from power in a revolution, but a decade later.

Vice President Jejomar Binay
Vice President Jejomar Binay

However, what makes Binay’s resignation explosive, and potentially fatal to Aquino, is that unlike his predecessors, he is the leading candidate for presidential elections in a year’s time. More importantly, it is a time when Aquino’s incompetence and corruption have started to unravel.

The narrative is perfect, as well as the timing: Binay tried to work with Aquino, who instead unleashed his attack dogs to eat him and his family alive, while the government rotted in corruption. Enough is enough, “tama na sobra na,” as Binay himself said in his speech the other day: these are narratives that spark a revolution, as they did both in EDSA I and II.

It was, in fact, only when Arroyo resigned from Estrada’s cabinet that the international press started to publish the unfolding political convulsion. For the deputy president to resign is a political earthquake, in parliamentary systems even triggering calls for elections.

We columnists might write well-researched columns day in and day out showing incontrovertibly that Aquino has proven to be psychologically and morally unfit to be President. Congressman Toby Tiangco and his colleague J.V. Bautista, or Bayan Muna’s Neri Colmenares might call press conferences everyday exposing corruption under this Administration, while Facebook posts such as those on MRT-3 corruption and the BIR’s refusal to touch a billion-peso tax case of an Aquino sympathizer could go viral.

But these accusations amount to almost nothing if a respected political leader does not make them. And who can beat Jejomar Binay as the most credible, if the Pulse Asia survey is accurate in showing that he is the most trusted official of the land, with a 57 percent rating from the May 30 to June 5 poll, a 15-percentage point increase from 42 percent in March?

Church hegemony

We forget that just a hundred years ago, what the Catholic Church said was what the masses believed. I even dare say that without Cardinal Sin asking people to go out to EDSA to defend the mutineers led by Ramos and Enrile, there wouldn’t be an EDSA.

Church hegemony obviously has receded, challenged and replaced by local political bosses and elites in local areas, and by media. But the entity in the modern period – even in advanced countries in the world – that determines what the masses would believe in what is going on in the nation is a country’s President or Prime Minister, and their main deputies, i.e., the Vice President or the Deputy Prime Minister.

Former President George W. Bush told Americans Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that would be used against them. His Vice President Dick Cheney even said the US should strike first before Iraq does.

Americans believed what was to be proven later as a total lie, and invaded an independent country, setting off a terrible chain reaction that led to the rise of that most despicable jihadist group, the ISIS. The scion of a haciendero clan says he will eradicate corruption, remove a corrupt Chief Justice and embark on a Tuwid na Daan reform program. From the track record, psychological profile and wealth of this man he didn’t really earn, you might think he’s sniffed too much. But because he is President, many Filipinos believe him.

This is because the age of God-anointed kings or even god-kings in the scale of mankind’s collective consciousness existed not too long ago. There is still the detritus belief – even among the most educated elites – that God whispers wisdom to a President.

Aquino’s unraveling

But this is the same mass psychology that will mean the unraveling of Aquino in the coming months, as it was for Estrada when Arroyo resigned her post. A vice president, because he or she is a vice president, has nearly as much credibility and influence over people’s minds as a president has.

For Binay in a single speech to say this Administration is a failure, and has allowed corruption around him go unchecked, is equivalent to all the anti-Aquino columns written in the past five years.

Over the past five years there have been governance atrocities such as the use of pork barrel funds and finances hijacked through the Disbursement Acceleration Plan scheme to remove a Chief Justice; the very selective prosecution of three (opposition) senators while many others involved in the scam remained unscathed; the corruption at the MRT-3 that for the first time in our history a foreign ambassador protested an extortion try by government officials; the massacre of 44 elite troops and the loss of Panatag Shoal because of Aquino’s bungling. (Compared with those atrocities, who the heck would be interested in an alleged overprice of a solid-looking building, and a spic-and-span science high-school?)

We will understand soon why these governance atrocities had not created a critical mass to topple this crazy and arrogant President.

As in the twilight years of the Marcos dictatorship until a Cory emerged, and in 1998-2000 until Arroyo decided to cast her lot with the people, there hadn’t been a leader to rally and galvanize opposition against this corrupt and incompetent President.

Until now. Binay has no choice but to play that role.