CHICAGO (JGL) – When Laguna Governor George Estregan was unseated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last year for overspending, my friend former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada used his patriarchal influence to talk his nephew into leaving the capitol steps “for the sake of peace” while his nephew awaits the result of the decision of the temporary restraining order (TRO) of his appeal before the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, when Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay was ordered suspended for six months by the Ombudsman last week to prevent him from using his position to tamper with the evidence that he has access in his office after being accused of involvement in the alleged overpricing of the construction of Makati City Hall Building II, his father and namesake Vice President Jojo Binay only added fuel to his son’s defiance by warning that if his political rival Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas would implement the suspension order, there could be “misencounter,” a parody to the word Roxas used in describing the bloodbath that resulted in the death of 44 Filipino policemen in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.
In the case of former Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim, when Lim was recommended for a one-month suspension by the late charismatic DILG Secretary Jesse M. Robredo in 2010 for administrative charge of simple neglect of duty for mishandling the Luneta hostage incident that resulted in the death of eight Hongkong nationals, President Noynoy Aquino sat on the case and never implemented Robredo’s recommendation because Lim is Aquino’s political ally. Robredo’s recommendation was based on a Report of the Incident Investigation and Review Committee (IIRC), chaired of Aquino’s secretary of justice, Leila de Lima.
But when former Cebu governor now Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia was ordered suspended by the Ombudsman for six months after being found guilty of grave abuse of authority for transferring funds of her vice governor, the late Vice Gov. Greg Sanchez, Jr., to her governor’s office to pay for consultants, Aquino swiftly implemented the suspension order because Garcia belongs to the opposition.
Because of his whimsical manner of using his discretion, I have a feeling Aquino is going to be defiant instead of being contrite for his poor judgment in dealing with his suspended subordinate police official (General Purisima) that broke the chain of command as shown when he refused to cooperate in the investigation conducted by the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry probing into the Mamasapano Massacre.
If only Mr. Aquino had made himself available during the investigation and provided the transcript of the contents of his cell phone, which could yield information that could lead to the truth, I am sure suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gregorio Catapang and Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Rustico Guerrero would have followed suit and submit themselves likewise for investigation before the fact-finding body.
I understand why they cannot give up the contents of their cell phones. Like former U.S. State Department Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, the undeclared presidential front runner in the 2016 U.S. elections, who is being investigated by the U.S. Congress for using her government email accounts for private messages, the transcripts of their SMS (short message services) records might yield more interesting, if not “incriminating,” evidence against them aside from their misconduct or inaction that resulted in the Mamasapano massacre.
I would suggest President Aquino and Vice President Binay call Manila Mayor Estrada for advice “for damage control” or “crisis management” on how they should conduct themselves during political crises.
NO STRANGER TO CONTROVERSY
Estrada is no stranger to these kinds of controversies. Erap has been there done that.
Before Erap was forcibly removed as mayor of San Juan by the revolutionary government of President Cory Aquino, I advised Erap to buy time by tearing up the eviction order because the order being served on him by then DILG Sec. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. was an insult to his person because the order was addressed to a nameless officer-in-charge and not under his name.
I told Erap tearing up the order in the presence of television cameras would educate the new revolutionary government to be respectful to the government officials being evicted. Conjuring defiance like Andres Bonifacio tearing up the cedula (residential certificate), the iconic scene catapulted Erap to national attention. And the rest is history.
Erap only agreed to leave office after he conducted an audit of the finances of San Juan so he would know how much money he was leaving behind the San Juan municipal treasury. He did not want to be accused of running away with the taxpayer’s money during his eviction.
I suggest Vice President Binay use his better angels to tell his son to pack up and accept the suspension order, which Secretary Roxas friendly suggested that his son could use the time to prepare for his defense of the looming graft cases against them before the Ombudsman that could distract him from serving the Makati residents he loves.
If his son is really innocent of the charges, then Mayor Binay has no reason not to accept the suspension order, which is routine under the law. Mayor Binay has nothing to worry about leaving temporarily his constituents, who voted for him, if he is innocent.
The young Mayor can emulate his fellow senior opposition ally, Mayor Estrada, by having his Makati treasury audited first before he leaves office, so when he comes back he has an idea if he missed anything.
Vice President Binay can easily do an Erap by using his moral ascendancy over his son to tell his son to stop being childish by staying in Makati City Hall and daring the police to serve him the suspension order while warning of an “encounter,” which will only make the Binay political family a laughing stock of the country, if not the world.
Estrada told his nephew, Governor Estregan, if he lost in court, there is always the next election to look forward to and learn lessons from his past mistakes and not to repeat the same.
I suggest Mayor Binay turn a page and show humility, by bowing to the majesty of a Constitutional body — the Ombudsman. By leaving City Hall, Mayor Binay can endear him more to his constituents, who certainly will not be orphaned because there is someone else who will look after them while he is away – his vice mayor.
Not only will his decision go a long way like Erap’s was to Estregan’s, Vice President Binay’s coaxing his son to step aside will send a message to the world that his junior is not desperately clinging to his position like a tuko (a gecko)!