EDITORIAL - Binay and Catch-22

(The Freeman) - November 24, 2014 - 12:00am

Vice president Jejomar Binay is a self-declared candidate for president in the 2016 presidential elections. Accordingly, anything that he does, even those that are pursuant to his official functions, can always be interpreted as campaigning. In Cebu, for instance, where he has recently spent a good number of days, he has been going from place to place, shaking hands, hugging old ladies, kissing babies, and joining in "boodle fights."


As vice president, he has every right to be here. As a public official, he has every right to mingle with the public. The problem is, doing so after he already declared his political intentions makes such activities look highly political and in furtherance of those intentions. Even if he says otherwise, nobody will believe him. And indeed why would they?


Even if Binay actually did not intend to campaign (ahem), campaigning would still be the unintended result of his going around. In other words, whether he intended it or not, and whether the public agrees with it or not, the bottomline is Binay is already campaigning. More importantly, he is campaigning way ahead of all the other candidates, declared or otherwise.


Those who are particularly miffed by the actions of Binay are accusing him, and rightly so, of early campaigning. Some even go so far as to threaten to sue the vice president. But that is as far as they can go. Moreover, it also exposes their ignorance. They can accuse Binay of premature campaigning but they cannot file charges against him.


And, incredible as it may seem, here is why. The Philippines has distinguished itself as the only country in the world that has an election law defining a candidate as a person who has already filed a certificate of candidacy, meaning unless that person has filed a certificate of candidacy, he cannot be called a candidate.


And if he is not a candidate, then he cannot be accused of campaigning - because he is not a candidate. If this particular election law smells something like a Catch-22, it probably is. To paraphrase Catch-22 - Binay may have declared his intention to run for president. And that is why he is campaigning. But if he has not filed a certificate of candidacy, then he is not a candidate. And if he is not a candidate, then he could not be campaigning.


Depending on whose side you are on, this election law is the epitome of beautiful logic, or the very essence of the obnoxious. One thing certain about it, though, is that Binay is getting away with impunity while his rival froth helplessly in the mouth in consternation. If they know what is best for them, they should stop complaining and simply do the same. Playing catch-up should be the name of the game.


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