Is Binay the most corrupt or the most efficient?

THE past few months have seen news headlines in the Philippines, rerun in FilAm media across the US, screaming about the corruption and unexplained wealth of Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
Binay, who has continued to enjoy a wide lead over other “presidentiables” like Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Alan Peter Cayetano, has dismissed these charges as baseless and rehashed accusations concocted by his political rivals during his long tenure as mayor of Makati.
Binay’s problem is that, as the only publically declared aspirant for the presidency in the 2016 elections, and as the consistent leader in all the public opinion polls, he is the logical target for attacks, fair or foul.
What exacerbates the problem is that, once Binay’s enemies have released their accusations to the media, the impressionable public has tended to take everything as true. Worse yet, the charges have been cloaked with the protective mantle of a Senate hearing, conducted by two senators who have admitted their self-serving plan to run for president, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes.
Binay’s saving grace, in a demented sort of way, is that the Filipino people, in general, have a dim view of politicians, including the so-called paragon of honesty, Noynoy Aquino. As far as they are concerned, everyone in government is corrupt.
If Aquino has not personally enriched himself, he is still regarded as corrupt for allowing corruption to happen under his watch. Mar Roxas, who has claimed moral ascendancy has been using billions of government funds to shore up his desperate attempt to become president. Cayetano has been charged with plunder. Trillanes cannot explain how he disposed of P100 million in pork barrel and P100 million in PDAF funds. Franklin Drilon, who must account for millions in pork barrel and DAP largesse, has been accused of overpricing infrastructure in his home turf in Iloilo. Butch Abad, dubbed the evil genius of DAP, has been giving his lone district of Batanes more money than it logically deserves.
On top of the perception of corruption, the Aquino government has been demonstrably  incompetent, with both Mar Roxas and current DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya as the poster boys.
Perhaps because of these, in survey after survey, Binay continues to be the choice of the masses for president. Their logic is simple: Since everyone is corrupt, then they would rather vote for someone who cares for them. In this case, Binay, the only presidential aspirant born and raised in poverty, has a decided edge.
Not surprisingly, crusaders for good governance have called the masses “stupid” for making such an “unthinking, illogical preference.”
But if these crusaders, some of whom are personal friends, were to stop and look more closely at the facts, separate the speculative and the innuendoes from the provable and demonstrable, as well as those facts that can stand in a court of law, they may not be too harsh on the “stupid, unthinking masses.”
As an objective journalist, I have endeavored to view the accusations against Binay and against Aquino and his government with a more discerning eye. Morever, having been in media for decades, I am familiar with the tendency of some journalists to twist or color the news or to outright masturbate it for obvious reasons.
I am inclined to believe that many who are cheering the crucifixion of Binay are doing so on the basis of what they have read and heard without really knowing the facts. In social media and among the civil society stalwarts, it is also the fashionable thing to do.
Yet, so far, none of Binay’s accusers – in spite of being granted virtual immunity by the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-Committee – has come up with evidence that will hold water in a court of law. This is one obvious reason why Cayetano and Trillanes have not been inclined to let the Ombudsman proceed with the case against Binay. Of course, the main reason is that the two presidential wannabes would lose the media mileage generated at the Senate hearings.
From an objective perspective, even while the Supreme Court has confirmed the charges of unconstitutionality against the pork barrel and the DAP,  the accusations of corruption that have tainted members of the Aquino administration have yet to be proven. Similarly, the charges against Binay have to be proven in a court  of  law. Until then, they are all entitled to a presumption of innocence.
On the other hand, there are certain negative aspects of Aquino’s governance that are demonstrable and supported by incontrovertible proof. For instance, the perilous status of the MRT and the LRT, the scandalous state of the NAIA, the utter incompetence in the handling of post-Yolanda relief and rehabilitation, the inability to develop agriculture and attain rice sufficiency, the worsening state of peace and order, to mention the most obvious. These are all a black mark on the Aquino government.
In contrast, the benefits that the government of Makati has given its residents, throughout the long tenure of Binay and up to the present, are also demonstrable and incontrovertible. Free elementary and high school education, including books, uniforms, shoes and snacks, subsidized college education in a modern university, including a dualized curriculum formulated with the business sector to ensure immediate employment for graduates (over 90% are hired); free health care, including medicines and hospitalization; day care services for working mothers; unmatched privileges for senior citizens; and computerized and efficient services at City Hall. And in a metropolis notorious for anarchy in the streets, Makati has the strictest traffic rules.
United Nations-Habitat ranked Makati’s health care system among the best in the world, and a report of the Policy Center of the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) considered Makati second to Japan in the Human Development Index.
In 2006, Jojo Binay was named fourth among the Top Ten World Mayors, in an annual selection of outstanding city executives around the globe, next only to the mayors of Melbourne, Amsterdam and Harrisburg (USA).
And a recent (November 24, 2014) news headline read,  “Makati among top 20 cities with highest ISO certification.”
And out of the 20, Makati stood alongside London, Boston, Toronto, Dubai and Rotterdam for the highest level of certification (Platinum), based on the stringent standards of ISO 37120.
Published by the International Organization for Standardization of Geneva, Switzerland, ISO 37120 sets a common set of indicators that measure the performance of the city in terms of services and quality of life.
Said Dr. Patricia McCartney, president and CEO of the World Council on City Data (WCCD), ““It is only through the commitment and leadership of cities like Makati that we can continue building a global network of sustainable, smart, and prosperous cities.”
A dear friend of mine and a relative by affinity, Vicky Garchitorena, has rightly pointed out that the Ayalas are the principal reasons for the emergence of Makati as the financial center of the Philippines. But what she failed to acknowledge is that it was Jojo Binay who made it possible for the residents of Makati, many of them poor, to share in the benefits of Makati’s wealth.
One anti-Binay critic once told me, “Binay may have given Makati residents a lot of benefits, but he also made tons of money in the process.”
My response was neither an admission nor a denial of his statement. I simply asked: “If only half of the billions in legislative and presidential pork barrel funds had been spent on educational, health care and other benefits for the Filipino people, the way Binay did, don’t you think we would have a more progressive Philippines?” (gregmacabenta@hotmail.com)

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