The undoing of Binay

His think tank and communications team are no amateurs. Composed of a motley group of academe, fraternity brothers, Boy Scouts and ad industry veterans, they had successfully projected an image of invincibility, conditioning the voters to believe that indeed Jejomar Binay is a step away from the presidency…until now.

What politicians need to understand is that it’s harder to pull off untruths in the Information Age. Adolf Hitler believed that if a lie is told often enough, it would be believed. That may have been true then, before the Internet, social media and netizens dominated the scene. Today, falsehoods unravel as quickly as they can be fabricated. And when the truth is stretched, there’s most likely going to be a snapback. The surveys echo Binay’s blunders.

The first fib was Junjun Binay’s claim that the Makati City Hall II was world-class, that’s why it was expensive. The building costs were supposedly cleared by the COA auditor.

The truth was that no amount of sprucing-up could transform an average, if not a substandard building into a P2.7-billion edifice. A property appraiser said the building should only cost P877.1 million. As for the alleged clearance, this was quickly disavowed by the COA chiefs and is currently under review.

At first the Vice President refused to “dignify” the accusations with an answer. Instead he used the default excuse of political persecution, while his strategists were anxiously figuring out the best way to deflect the issue. They were hoping that it would die a natural death, get overtaken by another more sensational exposé or that Binay would be damage-proof.

Their hopes were dashed. After much pussy-footing, he was finally forced to answer. At a presscon he said the charges wouldn’t hold up in a court of law. [Buzzer sound] Wrong answer. It’s like saying that you are not a thief unless you get caught.

"He who tells a lie is not sensible of how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one." – Alexander Pope

Antonio Tiu, the presumptive owner of the 150-hectare Batangas farmland reportedly owned by Binay, was patronizing and smug up to the last moment of his 15 minutes of notoriety. The TOYM awardee savored every interview and basked in the spotlight. He had an elaborate answer for every question. Alas, he was long on protestation but short on documentation. All he could show was an un-notarized sheet of paper for the claimed multi-million sale.

There are three types of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.” – Benjamin Disraeli

Then to prove that they are not fooling themselves, Binay’s camp commissioned their own survey that showed the VP would still win by a big margin even if he runs against PNoy in 2016. Incredibly self-serving.

This was quickly negated by the SWS survey that came out soon after their survey. It showed that Binay had a steep decline. He’s not “Teflon” after all.

The Binays were out for blood and Senate President Franklin Drilon became the primary target. JunJun Binay first mentioned the Iloilo Convention Center (ICC) in his testimony. He claimed it was priced even higher than the benighted Makati City Hall II. In politics, squid tactics is par for the course.

But when former Iloilo Administrator Manuel Mejorada stretched his accusations of anomaly to include DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson and Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, two of the most efficient and unblemished cabinet members – his own integrity became suspect. The charges became even more dubious when Mejorada’s close relationship with Former TESDA director general Augusto Syjuco Jr was revealed. Syjuco and his wife Congresswoman Judy Syjuco are both facing graft charges in the Sandiganbayan.

“It is better to offer no excuse than a bad one.” – George Washington

The debate debacle is one for the books. First, Binay had the cheek to challenge Senator Trillanes to a debate, instead of testifying in the Senate hearings. Then at the last minute he pulled out. His excuse? He did not want to seem like a bully since Trillanes was portraying himself as the underdog. Such effrontery! He must really think his constituents are all dimwits.

“If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” – Virginia Woolf

Strategy 321-B was to turn the tables on whistleblower Ernesto Mercado, VP Binay’s former Vice Mayor and ally. There was an attempt to pin the kickbacks on him. Binay said, just because the Vice Mayor accepted bribes, doesn’t mean the Mayor did too. Then Binay’s camp accused Mercado of owning 800 hectares of Batangas property, as well as a Palawan island.

But like other whistleblowers before him, Mercado already admitted he had “sinned”. He confessed to having received P80 million in kickbacks from the construction. He had documents to support his denunciations against Binay, which made him the more credible accuser.

“Truth is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether or not they believe it." Sarah MacLean, A Rogue by Any Other Name

Steadfastly refusing to answer the contentions against him, Binay is now “working the electorate”. Going on barangay sorties, he says that he is feeling the pulse of the masses. He has been criticized for early campaigning, which he just shrugs off. I guess being a “trapo” is a few shades better than being a plunderer.

"The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”  Derek Landy, Death Bringer Rappler.com