THIS columnist was not surprised when the Senate recommended to the Ombudsman the investigation of former National Food Authority (NFA) Administrator Lito Banayo for alleged graft while in office.
Banayo tolerated the use of NFA licensed rice importers as dummies in cornering rice import quotas worth millions of pesos, according to the findings of a joint Senate probe committee.
When Banayo was still NFA head, I heard about the shenanigans at the rice agency, but I chose to keep quiet because I didn’t have enough evidence to nail him.
I just thought to myself that Banayo would eventually hang himself.
As it turned out, I was right.
In my conversations with Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, I gathered that he also had his suspicions about the then NFA administrator.
In fact, Alcala, Banayo’s boss who was in the midst of a campaign to make the country self-sufficient in rice, wanted the NFA chief to stop importing rice.
Banayo resigned from the NFA to run for congressman of Agusan del Norte province.
What did I hear from disgruntled rice importers about Banayo?
That he was favoring certain rich individuals who cornered state rice import quotas.
Estimates by disgruntled rice importers placed Banayo’s alleged earnings from the manipulated import quotas at more than P500 million.
No wonder, Banayo could afford to run for Congress.
* * *
Banayo was one of the harshest critics of former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo for the latter’s alleged corrupt activities.
He was then the spokesperson of then presidential candidate Panfilo Lacson.
There’s a saying in Pilipino, “Ang magnanakaw galit sa kapwa magnanakaw (A thief hates his fellow thieves).”
That saying may well apply to Banayo.
* * *
What got into President Noy’s head to appoint Banayo as NFA chief when he was fired as postmaster general during the first Aquino—“Tita” Cory’s— administration?
Then Secretary Reinerio Reyes of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) fired Banayo in 1987.
At first Banayo didn’t want to leave his post even after he was given the walking papers.
But he eventually left after Reyes told him he would be bodily carried out of his office by Marines assigned at the DOTC.
* * *
If I were Nancy Binay I would follow my conscience and sense of propriety and drop out of the Senate race even if it would offend my father, Vice President Jojo Binay.
If you read the Inquirer editorial Thursday, you would agree that of the 33 senatorial candidates, she has no qualifications to boast of.
She has not held an elective or appointive post. Neither has she managed a private company or taken part in any cause-oriented undertaking.
Her only qualification—if you may call it that—is being an alalay or caregiver to her mother, Elenita Binay.
Her father unashamedly said she qualifies to be a senator because “she’s my daughter.”
That’s Philippine politics, “pakapalan na ng mukha! (No shame!)”
* * *
There is no doubt Nancy will win. This early, she is already No. 4 in the surveys of senatorial candidates.
Her father knows that many voters are dumb and ignorant, and so they will elect leaders based on popularity and not what they can do for the country.
More than 80 percent of voters belong to classes D and E who behave like herded cattle.