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As much as I despise to be political in this online journal, I cannot help but express my apprehensions towards the country’s current Vice President, Jejomar Binay. Doubting comes off lightly, to be quite honest, because if anything my apprehensions toward the second most powerful man in Philippine government, are vehement.

There is something cunning about Binay. Something simmering underneath his, pardon the pun, dark façade of well-calculated, PR-ready, and news-friendly actions. It’s almost as if everything he does has an ulterior motive, and is never simply done for its sake. It’s as if all his actions have been pre-determined to be part of his presidential bid.

And it is, come to think of it. The man has been the first to express his intentions to run for the nation’s highest post come 2016. He’s not shy about his ambitions. He wants it. He wants it bad. He wants it so bad you’ll see him maneuvering in foreign diplomacy when President Aquino can’t, or more importantly, will not; getting ungodly air-time for his strengthened efforts to reach out to victims of disasters; explicitly desiring the DILG post to extend his reach to the most local of governments; embedding his children into the political system to propagate a dynasty that seems so hungry for position and power, it’s frightening.

Once when I took a cab to work, the driver randomly commented that Binay scared him. He said he was wary of the Vice President’s plans to run for President; even more frightened about how ambitious he was. He heard stories about Binay’s stay, rule, lording, over Makati, which as of this writing, is still under the Binay’s claws. He heard of the man’s rumored corruption. Which comes as no surprise when I’ve heard more than my own share of supposedly verified reports Binay gets a hefty monetary cut for every condominium, hotel, or commercial center built in the financial district. Sometimes, a friend once shared, he would even get his own unit from a residential development.

Unfounded or not, these stories could hardly be considered the tipping point in why I am extremely skeptical of the Vice President. My disenchantment over the man came long ago. Watching the evening news, reading the papers in the morning, or listening to the local radio news stations on my commute, one can’t help but notice how Binay is always quick to do something to one-up President Aquino, or instead of working with the President, play his own cards whether Aquino is privy to it or not. I’m not even a fan of the present administration to notice Binay’s actions.

Aquino is nowhere to be found during the height of a natural calamity, Binay and his son are all over the news for personally taking part in rescue missions in hard-hit provinces, and delivering relief goods to affected citizens. Aquino is uninterested in letting go of his own pork barrel funds, Binay is quick to distance himself from his own allocations. And guess who flew with his son in tow to Zamboanga, where a crisis has been unfolding? You guessed it right.

You have to hand it to the man. He listens to the news. He analyzes the reception towards any of Aquino’s actions, and will do the exact opposite of any presidential endeavor getting negative feedback. He wants to be the good guy. He wants to be put in a good light. If the people want to scrap the pork barrel, he will agree to it. If people are angry at Aquino for barely being visible when the country is being battered by a typhoon, Binay’s out, up, and about, involved in emergency relief efforts and countless rescue missions – complete with props of course. Anything to appease the people. Anything to make the people think he’s sincere, and he’s simply a man who has the Filipino’s intentions at heart. Anything to improve his chances of winning come 2016.

There is no subtlety in Philippine politics. It’s all personality, pomp, pageantry, and every now and then, profanity in more forms than verbal. Binay is a politician, every inch of him aims to influence people’s views of him, extend his political clout, and make sure his power grows. He has the pomp and pageantry down to a pat. He’s working on his personality. And he’s got his daughter for profanity. Kidding.

But yes, I admire his PR team. They know what they’re doing. Or they think they know what they’re doing, enough to completely forget about the concept of overkill.

You see, the problem with many of today’s Filipino politicians, is that they underestimate the people. They probably still think the masses are as easy to convince and brainwash as before. They maybe right, of course, after all Binay’s daughter – a complete novice in a political post – actually won a Senatorial seat however unqualified she maybe for the duties of a public official. She suffered the wrath of social media. And although she may think she emerged victorious after being elected, I would not be as sure and comfortable if I was her.

In many ways, Binay’s undertakings remind me of what Noam Chomsky once said about propaganda.

[…] that’s the whole point of good propaganda. You want to create a slogan that nobody is going to be against and I suppose everybody will be for, because nobody knows what it means, because it doesn’t mean anything. But its crucial value is that it diverts your attention from a question that does mean something, do you support our policy? And that’s the one you’re not allowed to talk about.

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