December 20, 2013

The Junjun Binay Gate Scandal: What It Taught And Reminded Us Of So Far

It was around midnight of November 30. Coming from a party, Makati mayor Junjun Binay and his four-car-convoy wanted to exit out of Dasmarinas Village through a restricted gate. Because it's midnight and the village rules say that cars can only exit the gate until 10 pm, the security guards manning the gate refused to allow Binay's convoy to pass through.

What happened next made it to the front page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer a couple weeks later. The broadsheet backed up their story by uploading a 15-minute video on YouTube. As expected, the Binay camp cried foul citing "glaring biases and bends". The Inquirer story said three guards were arrested; Binay's camp refuted the claim saying the guards voluntarily went with the police.

One thing is crystal clear though. Junjun Binay wanted to be exempted from the village rule and be allowed to exit through the gate. And he was able to do so after calling the Makati police. In short, he was made aware of the law but he still decided to go above it. If that's not power tripping, then what is it?

The Junjun Binay gate scandal and the public uproar caused by it taught and reminded us a few things. These include:

1. Most Filipino politicians think they are either above the law or exempt from it. The video clearly shows that Binay got out of his car to make his case with the guards. That is to show his face, inform the guards that he's the mayor and that for this reason he should be allowed to pass through.

It doesn't matter if Binay asked for passage in a polite way. Joey Salgado, Binay's spokesman, refuted the Inquirer story wherein the mayor reportedly said "Kilala niyo ba ako?" to the guards. According to Salgado, what the mayor actually said was "Si mayor Binay ako. Baka puwedeng makiraan lang." There's really no difference between the two statements. Binay was basically saying I am Junjun Binay, mayor of Makati, so let me pass. He was blatantly using his name and his political position to bypass the rules of the village. It's wrong.

2. Filipino politicians love using the word malicious in describing negative write-ups and comments about them. In her statement about the Dasmarinas incident, senator Nancy Binay said "It is really heartwarming to know that there are people who are not swayed by the malicious story in the Inquirer and spiteful posts in social media." This is the first sentence in the statement.

Salgado, mayor Binay's spokesman, also used the adjective when he said "This is false and downright malicious." in countering the report that Binay uttered the words "Kilala niyo ba ako?"

This is a pathetic habit among Filipino politicians. When somebody criticizes or questions them, they immediately put on their defensive masks and attack the critic instead of addressing first the issue he/she raised. They have this shoot-the-messenger mentality. Of course, they only shoot when the messenger is bringing or has brought bad news.

3. Filipino politicians love flaunting their power to the public. Power, which ironically, was handed to them by the public. Our politicians seem to fully subscribe to the selfish saying that goes "If you have it, flaunt it."

In the Binay gate scandal, the mayor flaunted his power quite several times. He was in a four-car-convoy. This is not to mention the fact that these were really good-looking cars. Sleek. This in itself is flaunting. A parade of power. Put a mayor in there and you will be formidable against village rules and curfews. You can pass through any gate you want. Mayor Binay thought so until he came across three guards who didn't subscribe to the same formula.

Mayor Binay also has guns. And his staff or aides or whatever you call them were more than willing to cock, load and flaunt them just to show how serious they are in their pursuit to pass through a gate. So far, we've seen a handgun and a rifle. It's possible that there's more in the cars. Not an expert about the matter but does this not constitute a private army?

And then there's the wait-till-I-call-my-buddy-from-the-police technique. Our politicians are fond of flaunting the point that they have puppets either in the police or in the army. When the security guards refused passage even though Binay personally identified himself to them, the mayor separated himself and started calling somebody on the phone. The guards were probably thinking "Oh sheet, he's calling someone. We're screwed. But who could it be? The president? The vice-president? Somebody? Who?"

The guards didn't have to speculate that long as the Makati police arrived moments later. Yep, this is flaunting of power. With just a phone call, a troop of cops will arrive to stand by your side. Is this wrong? In a general sense, no. He's the mayor and it's the responsibility of the Makati police to always be there to protect him. But if you're calling the police to aide you in breaking a well-intentioned village policy, then it's wrong. You are arrogantly abusing your power.

And last but not the least, there's the umbrella man. A man diligently holding an umbrella for you is a nice symbol of power. Again, the guards were probably thinking "Oh sheet. Look, someone's holding an umbrella for him. This dude's the real deal. I bet somebody puts his shoes on for him too or watches the toilet door while he empties his bowels. Screwing with this dude ain't worth it. We better voluntarily go with the police." See, that's how powerful having a man hold your umbrella can be.
4. Senator Nancy Binay wants the Filipino people to forgive and forget about the incident. In the statement she released, she said that the incident has happened weeks ago, the matter has been resolved civilly and that they have forgotten about it. Does this mean the Filipino people should forget it as well? Absolutely not. What senator Binay seems to forget is that the Filipino people has a stake in the issue. If Junjun Binay is an ordinary citizen who doesn't hold a posh seat in public office, then yeah, sure, we can forget about the incident. We can just brush him off as another hotheaded and spoiled douche.

The problem is he is the mayor of Makati. This puts the incident in a shelf display where the Filipino people, especially the Makati people, can view it. As we mentioned earlier, the people has a stake in the issue. We want to know the character of the mayor. Is he abusing his power? Does he think he is above the law? He is a person who can significantly affect our lives through his governance. Surely, we don't want a power-tripping mayor. So for the senator to imply that we should forgive and forget is an insult.

5. Some of the reactions by Filipinos to the incident are just plain stupid. Allow us to mention an example:

"Gabi kasi so hindi namukhaan ng mga guwardiya."

What are you? A twelve year old? This is what's really saddening. You log into Facebook and see people in your news feed joking about Negra Nancy this and Itim Junjun that. Here you are being given the opportunity to really look into the character of an elected official and start a meaningful discussion about it. But what do you do? Make jokes about skin color. Pathetic.

Is this an example of the much-touted resilience or the ability of the Filipino people to find laughter in times of a disaster? Because the Binay gate scandal is a disaster. It's worrisome. It affects you more than you can imagine. Making jokes about their skin color is not only cheap and childish, you're also letting them off the hook.

End of rant.

Write Your Comments Below

1 comment:

  1. It was great reading this. Very informative and well-worded. Corruption in the Philippines has always been an issue and it's nice to see it be out in the open for, not only the Filipinos, but the whole world to see. Politicians need to be reminded that they serve the people and not the other way around. That they are in the position they are in because the people who voted them put their faith in them to change the current living situations they are in and that they have to deliver and meet those expectations.

    Flexing their muscles because they could was truly very sad to watch and downright embarrassing.

    I'm very proud of the security guards who stood up to him and did their job. Hopefully, this happens in the Philippines more often.