As long as the heir of Banquo is alive
There is something Shakespearean about immensely ambitious men and women who are driven to do things that they know are politically and morally disastrous.
While there are many ambitious personae loitering almost daily around the corridors of Philippine political power, there is one who catches my attention – VP Jejomar Binay.
I am drawn to his story because he prematurely told us as early as 2010 of his intention to run for president – right after he was elected as vice president and defeating the almost impregnable Senator Mar Roxas, to boot.
In fact, before the May 2013 midterm election, he continued to make his rounds forging sister city agreements with many LGUs all over the country with son Junjun, now the mayor of Makati. His promises? Perks of free admission at the Ospital ng Makati and scholarship grant assistance for sister city residents.
That’s a pocketful of promises! And who’s footing the bill?
Allegedly with a stash of cash from kickbacks and ingenious raids of Makati’s ever-swelling coffers, it’s so convenient to politically spin the charming notion that, “if it works in Makati, it will work in the entire country.” As my Makati lawyer friend used to say: “A city awash with money, any idiot can run Makati and claim responsibility for its customary progress as the financial center of the country as one’s own.”
To date, buoyed up by his lead at preference polls against undeclared presidential contenders, I am astonished by his obsession that is so perceptively in touch with the prophecy in Shakespeare’s story that Macbeth would become “King hereafter.”
Binay and Macbeth
In the Shakespearean tragedy, a brave Scottish general named Macbeth and his fellow general in the King’s army Lord Banquo return home from a successful military campaign. They are greeted by the Three Witches who prophesy their respective fortunes – Macbeth will be king; Lord Banquo will not, but his descendants will be.
Macbeth is stunned to silence by the clairvoyance but soon impatiently harbors the ambition of becoming king. He tells his wife, Lady Macbeth, about the prophecy. Anticipating the prospect as a presumptive queen, she goads her husband into killing the king who is visiting their castle.
In the end, Macbeth murders King Duncan as well as his friend General Banquo. Unfortunately, his assassins fail to kill Banquo’s son Fleance, infuriating Macbeth. He now fears that the power he possesses remains insecure as long as the heir apparent of Banquo is alive.
And so is VP Jejomar Binay. With the alleged inauspicious scandal involving his family hanging over his head like the Sword of Damocles, he now displays a Macbeth-like fearful brooding over the consequences of that villainous impulse to seize power at all costs. He is now worried with what the alleged scandal will eventually expose and do to his obsession.
Purportedly, VP Jejomar Binay’s wife Elenita has occasionally played a silly royal-like fantasy of a First Lady-in-Waiting in an English-inspired garden estate in Batangas with her entourage. But being hounded by allegations of unabated corruption inflicted by their family on Makati’s body politic, there's no telling if Mrs Binay will now cease playing her über-role as a consort in an alleged 350-hectare dummy property. We’ll see.
At the moment, the Binay family claims naiveté while simultaneously executing a gag order on its members. When asked to respond to the allegations of corruption, its common defense is the variant spin from its politerati of the not-for-citation reply: “No (bleeping) way they’re involved at all!”
Disturbed by the alleged exposé, VP Jejomar Binay professes bravado of not backing down from any fight but does not have the guts to face it personally. His rationale for avoiding the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation and the debate he personally challenged Senator Sonny Trilllanes is elusive, if not, cowardly.
And so, the story goes. It gets worse. In the end, Macbeth was vanquished and beheaded while Lady Macbeth took her own life.
But what does this tell us? What’s in it for us?
I don’t know what’s in store for the future of the sensational Binay dynasty. I hope it is more of good news than bad news for us. But there is one thing that strikes me about the impact of this political saga.
It is the realization that once we habituate ourselves to corrupt politicians and liars, it will take generations to bring the truth back. And haven’t we had them regime after regime?
It is unfortunate that our people have not been blissfully spared between the onslaught of actual and ideological experience of political corruption – a condition that many Filipinos think pushes us into the corner and traps us, as they say, “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
It is difficult for me to come into terms with this flawed choice. For me, it is easier to rationalize the former as an outcome of ethically inadequate individuals in temporary positions of power who break their vows to serve the people. It is the latter that’s harder for me to accept because it breaks the spirit of our people. Unless we break the vicious hold of this sadistic thinking, there is no hope for us indeed.
On my part, I refuse to accept the notion that all politicians are corrupt. Nor I accept “sweeping under the rug” political abuses for some notion of pragmatic justification such as the assertion that one has more important things to do for the nation rather than man up to the challenges of accusations after accusations of alleged corruption involving family members. And so, if part of that justification is to spin one’s own version of the right thing to do, I say: REJECTED!
Of course, there is always something that we all can do. How about instead of blaming our so-called “bobotantes,” can we show our love for the country by disseminating information to our people on the perils of corrupt politicians and their families obsessing to occupy Malacañang Palace?
Another option is, we tell them, "No more!" If they don’t stop, we will kick their doors and boot their derrières out into the street. We have done it before and maybe with lessons from our past experiences, we can do it better this time.
There is a redeeming element in Macbeth’s tragedy that encourages me not to yield from the debilitating view of ourselves. That is, as long as the heir of Banquo is alive, so to speak, I shall hope that we will continue to haunt the consciences or memories of those who had destroyed (and are still destroying) us with politics built on corruption and bad faith.
Our people deserve to be treated better than this. – Rappler.com
Efren Padilla is a full professor at California State University, East Bay. His areas of specialization are urban sociology, urban planning, and social demography. During his quarter breaks, he provides pro bono planning consultancy to selected LGUs in the Philippines.