By Manny Piñol
The Presidential ambition of Vice President Jejomar Binay is doomed, if not totally finished.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) punched the proverbial last nail on Binay’s political coffin after it succeeded early this week to convince the Court of Appeals to issue a freeze order on all the bank accounts and assets of the leading presidential contender and almost all of his allies.
“It’s all over for Jojo Binay,’ said a former provincial governor from the southern part of Luzon who said that the CA freeze order virtually closed all the financial faucets which could have provided funds for the Vice President’s Presidential run.
Political supporters and funders have already jumped ship and abandoned the floundering Presidential campaign of the Vice President.
Manila Mayor and former Philippine President Joseph “Erap” Estrada has already publicly declared that in a presidential match-up between Binay and neophyte Senator Grace Poe, an adopted daughter of his bosom friend, the late Fernando Poe, Jr., he would choose Poe.
Funders, who are not really known for their loyalty but more for opportunism, have scampered away, afraid that they would suffer the same fate as Binay’s perceived cronies and dummies whose assets and money have been included in the CA freeze order.
The virtual demise of Binay’s Presidential dream has made the political horizon for 2016 all the more exciting.
With Binay effectively out of contention, Senator Grace Poe is now the leading presidential contender followed by the unwilling candidate, Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte.
This development has also encouraged other Presidential hopefuls, aside from Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas III who has been nurturing Presidential ambitions since 2008, to float their names as well.
Former Senator Panfilo Lacson has already announced that if the survey numbers would look good for him, he would make another stab at the Presidency.
Then the other day, I received a call from a political kingmaker who asked me what my options would be should Duterte decide not to run for President.
He asked me whether I would consider Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. as an alternative to Duterte.
And then, of course, there is the feisty Miriam Defensor Santiago who remains popular and colourful.
There are unconfirmed reports that former President Estrada has already succeeded in forming a formidable team – Grace Poe for President and Chiz Escudero for Vice President.
However, there are persistent talks that Poe has consistently refused offers for her to run for President because of a nagging issue on her citizenship.
While Poe is being backed by huge financial groups, political pundits, however, are concerned about her inexperience and raised fears that she could just be manipulated by political interest groups when she becomes President.
Duterte has not, even this late, made up his mind on whether to run for President or not and his indecision is a reason for concern among his supporters.
In spite of that, Duterte’s supporters who are still hopeful he will finally decide to run are trying to propose who would be his running mate.
Senator Koko Pimentel of PDP-Laban says he would like to see a Duterte-Poe tandem.
There are those who propose a Duterte-Marcos team up saying that this would be a potent combination of two formidable political groups from the South and the North.
Some are suggesting a Duterte-Lacson and Duterte-Defensor-Santiago partnership.
Poe? Duterte? Roxas? Lacson? Marcos? Santiago?
It’s a wide presidential field now and Filipinos are obviously relieved they could freely choose now without the fear that a mistake could lead to the ascension to the Presidency of a man who could not explain, or who refuses to explain, how he and his family were able to amass billions by serving as city mayor and vice president.
The Court of Appeals (CA) granted a petition by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to freeze the bank accounts of Vice President Jejomar Binay totaling P600 million.
The 33-page order issued on May 11 also covered bank accounts of Binay’s son Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr., his wife Elenita and his alleged dummies Gerardo Limlingan, Eduviges Baloloy, Antonio Tiu, Lily Hernandez Crystal and several others.
The order was issued in connection with the investigations being conducted by the Office of the Ombudsman on alleged irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II, purportedly overpriced at P1.3 billion, and Makati Science High School.
When he was mayor of Makati City, Vice President Jejomar Binay was working with billionaires: his finance officer Gerardo “Gerry” Limlingan and longtime secretary Eduviges “Ebeng” Baloloy, according to the report submitted by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) to the Court of Appeals (CA).
Limlingan and Baloloy are not related, but the AMLC found that besides individual bank accounts they also had joint accounts.
From 2007 to 2014, they had cash and checking accounts that contained at least P810 million in deposits and P1.629 billion in investment management funds in different banks.
The AMLC report also showed that Limlingan had joint accounts with Binay and with other alleged dummies of the Vice President and that the joint accounts also contained hundreds of millions of pesos in deposits.
Five of Vice President Jejomar Binay’s accounts are slapped a freeze order by the Court of Appeals, citing an Anti-Money Laundering Council report.
Why were Vice President Jejomar Binay and his financial officer Gerardo “Gerry” Limlingan Jr, transferring “considerable amounts” of US dollars from the Philippines to Canada between 2008 and 2014?