Kleptocracy and the Binay political dynasty received a severe beating in the Philippines when the country’s Ombudsman – an officer with extraordinary powers to fight and eliminate graft and corruption in public office – ordered the “permanent dismissal” and perpetual disqualification from public office of suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay and nineteen of his city officials. The Ombudsman’s order is “immediately executory.”
JunJun Binay is the son of the country’s vice president, Jejomar “JoJo” Binay.
The Ombudsman is preparing to issue a warrant for the arrest of Vice President Binay, who is accused of the crime of plunder in six different cases that have been filed against him. The vice president’s wife, Elenita Binay (herself a former Makati City mayor) is also accused of plunder in a separate case with the Ombudsman.
Vice President Binay’s two other children – Senator Nancy Binay and Congresswoman Abigail Binay – have not been charged or alleged to be complicit in any of the cases.
The vice president, his wife and son have consistently refused to respond to the charges, claiming them to be part of a politically-motivated “demolition” job. The Binays have likewise disregarded an ongoing senate Blue Ribbon Committee investigation of the same charges against them, dismissing the investigation as part of a plan to derail the vice president’s presidential ambition.
Under Philippine law, plunder is a non-bailable offense and “is committed when a public officer who, by himself or in connivance with members of his family, relatives by affinity or consanguinity, business associates, subordinates or other persons, amasses, accumulates or acquires ill-gotten wealth through a combination or series of overt or criminal acts . . . in the aggregate amount or total value of at least fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00).” Fifty million pesos is roughly $1.15 million.
The Binay family has shown complete contempt of the Philippine judicial system. When then-mayor JunJun Binay was ordered suspended for six months by the Ombudsman, he barricaded himself in his city hall office and refused to leave, causing untold damage to government property by hired goons who surrounded city hall to protect him.
The vice president himself has considered orders of the Ombudsman and all other courts that are against him as “politically motivated” and not worthy of legal response. Some commentators and legal pundits have described the vice president’s actions as indicating “he is above the law.”
Because her brother JunJun is perpetually disqualified from running for public office, Makati Representative Abigail Binay announced that she would run for city mayor to protect the family’s “heritage.” Senator Nancy Binay likewise defends the family’s position as righteous since they (the Binay family) “made Makati what it is.”
Although the country’s crime fighters have a long way to go, things appear to be moving in the right direction. It won’t be long when the Philippines can be taken off the list of countries that have the world’s most corrupt governments.