Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Patronage Politics Of Jojo

At sumulat na rin ako kay Col. Jose Sta Romana, ang deputy chief ng Office of Detainer’s Affairs para hingin ang release ni Sammy. Sinagot niya ako na hindi maire-release si Sammy dahil naisampana ang kaso niya, PD 33 sa lalawigan ng Pasig kay Fiscal Rodolfo Mateo.

Sinabi ko ito kay Atty. Rene Sarmiento. Siya kasi ang sumusubaybay sa kaso ni Sammy at Agot. Pagkalipas ng ilang araw, sinabi niya na inilipat niya ang kaso ko kay Atty. Jojo Binay. Kilala daw kasi nito si Fiscal Mateo at classmate pa sa sabungan. Mula noon, kay Atty. Binay na ako nagpapa-follow up.

Inaamin ko na sa mga panahong iyon, may mga oras na napapagod din ako. May araw na ayaw kong kumilos. Pero ang asawa ni Agot, si Rose ang kumukulit sa akin. Kinukulit din kasi siya ng asawa niya. Kaya’t walang panahon na mapagod, na tumigil sa paglalakad ng release papers.

Pinayuhan ako ni Atty. Jojo Binay na pasulatin si Sammy at Agot kay Fiscal Mateo at umapela sila sa kanilang release for humanitarian reasons. Sumulat ang dalawa at sa impluwensya na rin siguro ni Atty. Binay, pumayag si Fiscal Mateo. Sumulat siya sa Office of Detainees Affairs na wala siyang tutol sa release nung dalawa upang magkaroon sila ng pagkakataon na maayos ang mga papeles nila sa kanilang kaso.

Sworn Statement,
Martial Law Recollections

Nothing but good words - I think - would come out of my dad's mouth if he were to talk about Jojo Binay and the ties that bound them. I would not even be surprised if he and the publishing empire that he had built would carry the mayor's name if he were still alive today. After all, my dad owes his freedom to this man, who used to be a little-known public servant before Cory Aquino installed him as the custodian of Makati. For politicians and constituents alike, he is still the same person who would use his connections and resources to grant favors to those who would approach him.

But first, let me assure you, dear readers, that I do not share my father's affinity with the old man. Not even in my subconscious do I believe in the sincerity of his words. The least I could offer is recognition, of how he has become part of the family lore. I would no longer go into details, but it is possible that he was the reason for my being. Beyond this begrudging utang-na-loob is my attempt at understanding; of why despite the corruption charges hurled against him, and his wily attempts to evade the accusations, Jojo Binay appeals to millions of voters who choose to ignore the truth and would still want for him to become the next President of this country.

The answer lies within our barest notion of Democracy.

I have always said that we never got past the idea of Feudalism. Sa probinsya man o sa lungsod, we are expecting politicians to provide for our basic needs. We think we are entitled to it. We let them become lords and princes in exchange for little conveniences that in time would appear like we owe it to them. And the former mayor of Makati is just a fine example of a leader spawned by this perverted social pact. His platform of governance, including the 5Ps and the reduction of taxes, assure that this system will be expanded beyond the peripheries of  his city. The grateful masses, in return, would perpetuate his dynasty. This is what happened when his daughter was elected a Senator despite her lack of experience in the government.

Jojo Binay would tell everyone that his city offers free healthcare for its residents. He also offers free education for its students. I do not know what else is free in Makati aside from the bland cakes, and school bags (with the Binay trademark adorning its surface) but my aunt, who is a surgeon, had sworn in our family talks that the city runs the public hospitals with the best medical facilities. How can you beat that? This augmented reality, obscured by the fact that it was Makati's small indigent population and a robust business and commercial district that afford them such privilege. This narrative passed on from word-of-mouth is what's making the elder Binay a favorite among the natives.

But can we blame them for believing this pipe dream?

Much as I would like to think that Jojo embraces a social system similar to socialism, the truth is that he practices a leadership style that allows for the politics of patronage to flourish. And when the people - from the village elders to the landed princelings hold their allegiance to that one family responsible for their well-being, the excesses of power, including the audacity to generate personal income through shady deals get overlooked and forgotten. It is only when determined rivals, aided by intrusive journalists unearth these secrets do the truth come out. This is the real Binay story. And given that he has been ignored for so long, he goes to great lengths (including the infamous no-shows at the Senate hearings) denying the accusations despite the damning evidence.

Meanwhile, the masa doesn't care. Forever swayed by politicians who "eat among them" and "dole out cash and goods when it's time to campaign," they see our political system as a sham; That no matter who you put in Malacanan, nothing will ever change. Hence, the solid 23% of the voting population remains and will carry him to the finish line.

I will never vote for him in any elections, but as long as the Padrino system goes on, Jojo Binay, and the likes of him will always have loyal followers, no matter where they peddle their lies.

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