POSTSCRIPT / December 2, 1999 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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What Erap told son JV when he last wrote him

DOES Erap Estrada write to his children? Ever since his Christmas cards went into the wrong envelopes and caused a minor identity crisis in the families, we guess he has stopped writing to them. But then that’s just a guess.

Besides, according to black propaganda, since writing requires thinking and since thinking interferes with his normal mental processes, the letters must have stopped. But then, that’s black propaganda.

A thoughtful reader once advised us not to believe everything we read in the Internet. We don’t. But we stumbled on this gem in our email box and could not resist the temptation to share it with the rest of Star readers.

We heard Press Secretary Rod Reyes is sitting on a mountain of unaudited millions passed off as intelligence funds. He might want to spend a few of his millions to trace the media source of this copy of the letter (quoted below) allegedly sent by Erap to his son JV.

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Dear JV,

Kamusta na sa Amerika, anak? Mabagal kong isinulat ang liham na ito dahil alam kong mabagal ka ring magbasa. Anak, gusto ko lamang iparating na hindi na kami sa Malacañang nakatira ngayon. Nabasa kasi ng mommy mo (si Loi) na kadalasan na ang mga aksidente ay nangyayari sa bahay kaya’t napagpasiyahan ko na lumipat na ng tirahan.

Pero huwag kang mag-alala. Dinala ko naman ang karatula ng ating lumang address kaya maari mo pa rin akong sulatan sa dati nating address. Mahirap na kasi ang pabago-bago. Alam mo naman na napakarami ko ng kinakabisado.

Maganda naman ang tirahan namin ngayon. Mayroon pa ngang built-in na washing machine. Subali’t nang labhan ko yung damit ko, hindi na bumalik. Kaya’t huwag kang bibili ng Saniware washing machine, anak. Malakas pa naman sana ang ikot.

Maganda rin ang lagay ng panahon dito. Dalawang beses lamang umulan last week. Yung una, mula Lunes hanggang Miyerkules. Yung pangalawa, mula Huwebes hanggang Linggo.

Tungkol nga pala sa coat na gusto mong ipadala namin… masyado raw mabigat sabi ni Orly kung isasama yung mga butones. Kaya pasensiya ka na kung tinanggal namin bago namin ipadala. Nilagay naman namin sa bulsa para hindi mawala.

Ay naku! Alam mo bang basang-basa kami nung Martes (nung unang umulan last week)? Naiwan kasi nitong si Senator Tito yung susi ng BMW niya sa loob. E nakabukas pa naman ang sunroof! Basang-basa tuloy ang interior! Mabuti na lamang at gumanap na carnapper itong si Jinggoy nung araw, kaya nabuksan niya ang kotse mula sa labas.

Ang kaso mo, nang pumasok kami ni Jinggoy, naiwan si Senator Tito sa labas at hindi na naman niya mabuksan ang kotse! Wala na naman sa kanya ang susi. #^&@%* mga artistang politiko talaga yan! Hindi gumagamit ng IQ… muntik na kaming malunod nuon, ah!

Naalala ko tuloy yung pinsan kong nahulog sa tangke ng whiskey! Marami sana ang gustong sumagip, pero pinilit pa rin niyang uminom at libre! Ayun, nalunod at pina-cremate – anim na araw rin ang binilang bago namatay ang apoy….

Kaya pag namatay ako, hindi ako paki-cremate… masakit.

Siyanga pala, nanganak na si Jackie kahapon. Hindi ko pa alam kung lalaki o babae, kaya hindi ko masabi kong ikaw ay isa ng uncle o auntie. Naku! Napakalikot na bata. Eager beaver, ‘ika nga!

Anak, hanggang dito na lamang muna ang aking liham… marami pang pagbabago ang kailangang gawin sa Pilipinas. Ayun sa survey, 95 percent pa lang ng mga Filipino ang naging madasalin mula nang ako’y naging presidente! Kailangan 120 percent! Siyempre kailangan kasama ang mga OCW sa abroad, no?


Papa Erap

PS: Papadalahan sana kita ng pera, pero nakasarado na ang sobre….

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SHOULD we allow aliens to buy and own land in the Philippines, as President Estrada wants under several constitutional amendments he has been pushing? Our position is against ownership of land by aliens. As expected, some readers agreed, while others disagreed.

Reader Emmanuel S. Tipon says in his email:

I agree with you that “Land is a factor of production. But the producer need not own the land as long as he is able to use it.” and that “There are many creative ways of gaining access to land short of buying it. A suitable area for a factory, warehouse or an office building could be leased. In another arrangement, its title could be kept in the name of a Filipino partner part of whose contribution is the land.”

In cases where a “lease” is not feasible because of constitutional or legal restrictions, one of the “creative ways” of gaining access to the use of land without owning it is for a foreign entity to enter into an agreement with the landowner for a “joint venture” or a “grower agreement.”

This does not insure that some gadfly will not challenge it in court as unconstitutional because it is in essence a “lease” and covers an area exceeding constitutional limitations, as what happened in one case where I was counsel.

When we appeared before the Supreme Court, my co-counsel argued that the arrangement improved the economy (which I would not have raised). Whereupon the irrepressible Justice J.B.L. Reyes almost jumped from the bench shouting: “So we should allow foreign prostitutes to come to the Philippines because they also improve the economy. They buy food, drinks, cosmetics, etc.”

While challenges cannot be prevented, they can be overcome by carefully drafting the documents to withstand such challenges.

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READER Efren O De La Cruz Jr., on the other hand, has this to say:

I follow your column every time it comes out. In sharp contrast to the verbosity and vagueness that characterize other columnists, I find your brevity and succinctness most refreshing. But I have to say, I was as confused as your friends by your seemingly conflicting positions (albeit implicit) on the subjects of land ownership by foreigners and free trade.

(POSTSCRIPT leans toward freer world trade, but opposes land ownership by aliens. – fdp)

You say that foreigners need not own land to use it profitably and you even go so far as to cite oil companies as examples. You are correct in holding up the oil companies as models of success, but you make the mistake of not investigating the legal spirit on which their land tenure is based, and labeling it instead as a creative means of gaining access to land.

On leasing land and partnering with Filipinos who own the land, business is all about the management of risk or uncertainty. Profitable and successful companies are those which are able to reduce to a minimum the uncertainty of future events that affect their business (risk cannot be totally eliminated).

For a multinational oil company, land is a very big component of its business — land being a requirement to house gigantic and capital-intensive facilities like refineries and depots. As such, a smart oil company general manager will not allow his/her company to invest billions of capital on facilities which will stand on land that it does not control.

With just a lease or a Filipino partner owning the land, the multinational is subject to the risk or the uncertainty that in the future the Filipino landowner might raise the lease rate unreasonably or terminate the lease contract altogether.

Being unwilling to take this risk, what do I think multinational oil companies have done? (And I get this from inside sources…) they’ve bought land through dummy corporations. These dummy corporations in turn donated these properties to non-business institutions like schools, with the legal stipulation that the oil company will occupy the space for eternity and that the school will derive rental income for eternity according to a pre-determined lease and fixed escalation rate.

Is this the creative means of gaining access to land that you were prescribing? (No. – fdp)

Without the public knowing about it (but I am certain the government does), foreigners, through legal subterfuge, have owned land since time immemorial. Admittedly, it’s a win-win situation for both the school and the oil company.

And this is where I lose you. You will not allow companies to own land, but you will advocate “creative means of gaining access to land.” A dog by any other name is still a dog. While I am against foreigners owning land myself (but for entirely different reasons), I cannot appreciate your arguments.

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ADVISORY: When readers write or send press items, we assume that (1) they consent to their materials possibly being reprinted, quoted or excerpted, although we have no obligation to use them, and (2) they agree to take full responsibility in case any liability arises involving a third party mentioned or affected by their materials.

We said in the last POSTSCRIPT that our address book and email files were lost when we changed our hard disk. Readers who have pending queries, requests or similar matters may want to send them again.

For fear of viruses, we do not open attachments and files with .exe extensions sent to us via email. We advise correspondents to have such text messages quoted or pasted on their message proper.

We thank most sincerely the many readers who send their views and thereby enrich POSTSCRIPT discussions.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 2, 1999)

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