POSTSCRIPT / May 7, 1998 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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If Erap wins, but can’t last 6 years?

BY the time you read this, the votes would have been cast. The nation awaits the official verdict: Will Erap Estrada enter Malacañang on June 30 borne on the wings of popularity? Or will the party machine carry Joe de Venecia to take the place of his patron in the Palace?

There is also that nagging question: Will the result be so decisive and convincing that it would not tempt President Ramos to attempt a holdover or prompt the armed forces to grab the fulcrum of power to maintain an equilibrium?

But this is mostly a rhetorical line that we habitually toss when we run out of needling questions. Don’t be bothered by rumors of a post-election crisis.

The attention of the populace now is, as it should be, to ensure an orderly transfer of power and accountability, to nurture a climate for a cordial modus vivendi between the winners and the losers.

In the last several days, various voices raised prayers for Hope – honest, orderly and peaceful elections. There is a multisectoral campaign to lower the temperature of the campaign and the incidence of cheating in the face of the admitted inability of the Commission on Elections to ensure honest polls.

Despite the heat and passion unleashed during the campaign, not to mention the lives needlessly lost, our prediction is that the pot will simmer down and most things will go back to normal after a few days.

(This optimism does not include the economy, which I think will wobble during the year as the government scrounges around for any money left, but will rebound in the coming year under a new administration.)

So, you avid election fans in the States are advised to relax. Don’t worry, the Pinoy will survive this bloody, expensive circus of an election.

* * *

IT would be a great relief to have the elections behind us. Even God, I surmise, would just be too glad that finally He could take a rest from all that pestering of politicians and the reckless imprudence of his gofers on earth.

Not to miss a juicy deal when they smell one, many ministers and preachers have diversified into endorsing candidates, all in the name of God in heaven.

The other week, the Jesus is Lord movement led by Protestant preacher Eddie Villanueva transformed his regular rally at the Rizal Park into a miting de avance for Joe de Venecia. Villanueva intoned in a trembling voice which he tried to bounce from the clouds above that JdV was God’s own anointed.

Carried by the evening’s hypnotic recitation of biblical verses, President Ramos who was present likened himself to Moses passing on his staff to Joshua de Venecia.

Now the JIL and the government-owned TV Channel 4, which aired the rally, are facing electioneering charges. God will have to send one of his archangels to spring them.

* * *

NOT to be outdone, another Protestant preacher Wilde Almeda of the Jesus Miracle Crusade followed with his own rally wherein he also anointed JdV, intoning “I hereby decree in the name of Jesus that he (JdV) will be the next president.”

Bragging that his decrees had all seen fulfillment, Almeda announced that he was willing to be shot if proved wrong about his blasphemous (my own description — fdp) declaration.

But Mike Velarde of the seven-million-strong El Shaddai was more careful. The charismatic leader allowed candidates for national office to speak before his flock at the reclaimed area by Manila Bay during their usual Saturday prayer rally last week.

He was careful not to publicly endorse anybody, but before the rally he let out word that the candidate who used his favorite expression “Tiyak ‘yon!” (That’s for sure!) was the Chosen One.

So when Erap Estrada and Kit Tatad, who was running for vice president, ended their speeches with a spirited “Tiyak ‘yon!” the crowd roared in approval and applauded mightily. By coincidence (?), sample ballots were distributed with the names of Estrada and Tatad.

As for the Iglesia ni Cristo, whose voting strength of about 1.5 million is presumed to be solid, the announcement from Ka Erdie Manalo of his preferred candidates is usually made close to Election Day. But the Iglesia is generally presumed to go for Estrada.

* * *

THE Inquirer, the biggest paper in town, bannered the El Shaddai endorsement of the mixed tandem of Estrada and Tatad, and Velarde had a field day denying it publicly (but confirming it privately) the next day.

Velarde proved himself smarter than the others since he was able to make the endorsements while shielding himself from accusations that he did.

The Catholic Church closely monitors the El Shaddai and Velarde usually hews to the church line. At the time of the rally, however, both Jaime Cardinal Sin and Msgr. Ted Bacani, assigned adviser of Velarde, were attending a synod in Rome.

While Tatad’s endorsement by El Shaddai is acceptable to, or may even be approved by, the Church, that of Estrada raises some questions because he had been denounced by Sin as unfit for the presidency.

It may be unchristian to even think of it, but it is possible that faced with the seeming inevitability of an Estrada victory, the Church fell back on an Estrada-Tatad combination on the belief that Estrada will not last six years anyway. In this scenario, Tatad the Anointed One of the Church will carry on when Estrada falls by the wayside.

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