Episode 37: Why Not Binay Or Santiago?

In this second installment of the “Why Not…?” series, I turn my attention to Vice President Jejomar Binay and to Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Feel free to revisit my earlier post on Duterte here.

As in the past, first come the admissions:

First, VP Binay is one of the most experienced politicians and public servants among the Presidentiables, having held both local and national executive positions. In fact, from the perspective of sheer experience, Binay is strictly better than Duterte.

Second, Binay was able to create a vat network of local government support via Makati’s now-defunct “Sister City” program. Quite apart from the political machinery aspect, this network gives Binay a direct link to local issues even in far-flung local governments.

That said…

For me, the case against VP Binay is simple. There is probable cause to charge Binay as well as his family members of graft, malversation of public funds, and falsification of public documents in connection with the bidding and construction of the carpark project. The worst of it is that Binay has “responded” to these charges in every fora available – except the proper ones, such as the Senate hearings and even the Ombudsman. That is enough for me.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of “probable cause,” it refers to the existence of such facts and circumstances as would excite the belief in a reasonable and prudent mind, that a cime has been committed, and that the accused committed said crime.

In plain English: if there is probable cause, that means there’s enough evidence to reasonably conclude that Binay and family are as crooked as a dog’s hind leg.

“But Jego, what about the presumption of innocence? What about proof of guilt beyond reasonable doubt?”

See, that’s part of the problem we Filipinos have. We keep buying into those kinds of statements without really understanding what they mean and what they are meant for.

The presumption of innocence and the threshold of proof beyond reasonable doubt are limits imposed on the power of the State to punish people for criminal offenses. Simply put: if the State fails to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person committed a crime, then by default s/he is presumed innocent, and the State cannot punish her/him. These concepts have absolutely nothing to do with a personal determination of how trustworthy a candidate is.

Of course, I’m not going to stop you from using that presumption or that burden of proof to justify your support for Binay, if you so wish. Just remember that proof beyond reasonable doubt is a very high threshold of proof, and it follows that if you use it on Binay, then you should likewise use it for the other candidates (ie. no accusing Duterte of killing people and of death squads, no accusing Roxas of pilfering Yolanda funds, etc.)

~ ~ ~

What about Senator Defensor-Santiago?

First: of all the Presidential candidates, Sen. Santiago is the only one to have had positions in all three major branches of government – legislative as multiple-term Senator, executive as both a former Commissioner of Immigration and a lengthy stint in the Department of Justice, and judiciary as a former judge in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.

Second, she is deeply principled, so much so that while most other candidates were airing “introduction” ads prior to the campaign period, all Sen. Santiago did was announce her bid. Although that has arguably worked to her detriment, there is no denying the amount of courage that takes in today’s political environment.

Now for the bad news.

Apart from her openly choosing Bongbong Marcos to be her running mate for Vice President (which I touched on here), I believe that if elected, she will die before she even completes a year in office. Which essentially means that, given her selection of running mate, she actually wants Bongbong Marcos to be President.

I thoroughly disagree with Sen. Santiago’s refusal to divulge her state of health and her medical records. True, there is no law that requires her to do so. Still, I think MDS owes it to her supporters, and those who may yet consider voting for her, to inform them if she is physically able to fulfill her mandate should she be elected. Otherwise, her entire platform becomes a single empty promise.

Support for a candidate should be an informed support. And it should be support for a candidate who can guarantee that she can complete her term.

A quick word on the whole “sayang ang boto” argument. Let me be clear: there is no such thing as a wasted vote. Just because Sen. Santiago gets less than 2% of voter preferences in the surveys doesn’t mean a vote for her is “wasted.” This is a patently dishonest attempt of some groups (including even some among Roxas supporters; sorry guys, calling you out, stop that nonsense) to convince you to jump on to their bandwagon. No. If you want to vote for Santiago, that is your decision and your decision alone. Never let anyone tell you that a vote for the person you believe is the best person to become President is “wasted” just because there is a high likelihood that s/he will lose.

~ ~ ~

Why not the other candidates who place statistically insignificant voter preferences?

Again, a vote for them is not a wasted vote just because they can’t even get 0.01% of voter preferences. However, the fact that none of their supporters appear to be seriously campaigning for them (including themselves) places serious doubt as to whether any of them could actually muster any sort of political capital to get anything done if elected into office.

This country needs a lot of things for this next administration.

A lame duck President isn’t one of them.

A career thief isn’t one of them either.

A dead President isn’t one of them either.

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