MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/19 November) – It looks odd that despite the string of accusations of graft hurled against Vice President Jejomar Binay he has remained in the Cabinet as housing chief. Recently, President Benigno S. Aquino III even gave him a prominent role in the rehabilitation work for areas hit by super typhoon Yolanda. “Daang matuwid” has never been this straight.
And here’s more: During the Asia Pacific Economic Conference meeting in Beijing this month Aquino told reporters he would prefer that the Senate stop its investigation of the charges against Binay so it could focus more on its legislative work.
Of course, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and company ignored Aquino’s message. The principle of separation of powers has nothing to do with it. They (Cayetano and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and their sponsors) want the charges against Binay tackled before the blue ribbon sub-committee over an indefinite period for them to remain in the glare of public attention in the run-up to the 2016 elections.
Yet, even if Cayetano and company have insisted on continuing the probe into Binay’s alleged penchant for overpricing government projects they could not play down the implications of Aquino’s statement. Like the wintry winds from the north in this time of the year, the President’s words from Beijing must have sent a chill to Cayetano and other Malacañang hopefuls.
They have reason to be wary of Aquino’s game plan. At this stage where the outcomes of the Senate probe on Binay are yet to unfold the President apparently sees it fit to keep his cards close to his chest. Secretary Mar Roxas’ drumbeaters are eagerly propping him up as the Liberal Party’s contender in 2016, but Aquino chooses to sit back and wait how things will play out. Strangely enough, he remains non-committal to Roxas but seemingly soft on Binay if his message from Beijing were an indication.
I have misgivings too about how the Senate probe has become a circus and would rather see the vice president hailed to court to resolve the issues with finality. But I doubt if Aquino has the same intent – to see Binay face the Sandiganbayan. It sounds more like he wants Binay to think that the Palace is not privy to the campaign against him just in case the next survey still shows the vice president ahead of the race.
And now Roxas’ camp is floating the name of Senator Grace Poe as the secretary’s running mate in 2016. Poe told media no formal offer has been made for a Mar-Poe team-up. It means Roxas’ allies simply want to know if the proposed tandem could improve his chances at the polls. In 2010, Aquino’s popularity failed to work wonders for Roxas, who lost to Binay. But maybe a Mar-Poe formula would work to his advantage this time? Let’s see.
Meanwhile, Aquino is yet to lay down his cards.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)