POSTSCRIPT / June 10, 1999 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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With raging turf wars, can Estrada team last?

SOME readers asked us why the head of our last Postscript said, “When caught in traffic violation, cite Article V” when there was nothing in the column about such an article.

We checked the last issue, and saw that they were right. A big chunk of text referring to Article V (of the Traffic Code) did not see print.

We’ll tell you why later, but meantime, here’s that missing text:

ONE time we made a right turn at an intersection. A traffic aide stepped out from behind a post and waved us to the shoulder. In such situations, I often stop several meters from where the aide is so he would have to do some walking. For his exercise.

“Bakit, ano bang problema?” I asked as I rolled down my window. (Why, what’s the problem?)

“Sir, nag-right turn kayo kahit naka red light.” (Sir, you turned right on a red light.}

Yung red light ay para sa dumidiretso,” I said. “Hindi naman ako dumiretso, nag-right turn ako. Di ba, ang rule ay right turn is allowed anytime with care? Kung bawal, dapat maglagay kayo ng No Right Turn on Red Light.” (The red is for those going straight. But I turned right. Isn’t it that we can turn right with care? If it’s not allowed at an intersection, you have to put a No Right Turn on Red sign.)

Hindi sir, bawal talaga ang tumuloy kapag red light.” (No, sir, you really should not go ahead if it’s a red.)

Anong bawal? Tingnan mo sa Section 2, Article V ng Traffic Code of 1998. Hindi mo yata binabasa ang Traffic Code, eh!” (Why don’t you read Section 2, Article V. It seems you don’t even read the Traffic Code!)

The legal mumbo-jumbo stumped him. “Sige na ho, attorney. Mag-ingat lang po kayo (You may go, attorney. Just drive carefully),” he said, scratching his head over Article V of the Traffic Code.

Today, June 10 (6/10), I would cite Section 6, Article X, if I’m flagged down for a violation.

* * *

SAYING that Postscript should not “tire of pointing out those car plates saying clowncilor, mayor of this and that,” reader Mila Alora recalled in an email:

“One time in New World Hotel (in Makati) there was this Pajero that had a car plate saying ‘Board Member of Batangas.’ How come the LTO allows this practice? It is irritating for ordinary citizens to see these petty politicians think they can have special privilege and not use the ordinary car plates issued to all motorists.

“Last Sunday while driving in the South Superhighway going to Makati, we saw this white Toyota Crown with plate number UUR 161 followed by a Pajero which kept blinking the tail lights as in an emergency.

“Both cars were astride the white line separating the two lanes totally oblivious of other motorists. The drivers of both vehicles did not stick just to one lane and at times would weave in and out on the three lanes before exiting in Sucat. Abusado talaga!

* * *

PRESIDENT Estrada again fired from the hip when he told the press that China should not threaten us. He was reacting to a news report that Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying said we better…or else – in connection with some Chinese rounded up for overstaying.

The news report made it appear that the Chinese ambassador said her government might crack down on the 140,000 Filipino workers in Hong Kong if we continued to “harass” Chinese visitors here.

I was there in the Sulo hotel kapihan where the envoy was guest last Saturday and I heard no such threat. But President Estrada reacted to the misleading news report. It’s the usual problem of officials prematurely reacting to reports that turn out to be inaccurate.

Almost by instinct, any official with sufficient exposure will assume that a veteran diplomat will not go around the country badmouthing or threatening the host country. We cannot imagine a diplomat as seasoned as Madame Fu doing that.

Diplomats may lie for their country and do other dirty jobs, including spying, but you’ll never catch them hurling threats and insults at the host country while they are still posted there.

It may seem macho and cute to Filipinos with inferiority complex, but firing back recklessly at imagined tormentors is pure immaturity.

* * *

WHAT’s this? The Estrada administration is already falling apart after only one year?

An unfortunate turf war is raging between Agriculture Secretary Edgardo Angara and his supposed stand-in, erstwhile Secretary William Dar. The unusual thing is that the President himself seems to be fueling it by holding back his full support for Angara.

At the Department of Interior and Local Government, it’s the same thing. Secretary Ronaldo Puno is similarly entangled in a tiff over turf with his subordinate Undersecretary Narciso “Jun” Santiago.

At the Philippine National Police, kulang na lang magbarilan ang mga top brass. Over what? The polite term for it is again “turf,” but to be candid about it, the intramurals are over power and money, mostly the latter.

In Malacañang itself, a nest of scorpions, officials around the President are caught in endless intrigue. Even the “Little President” – Executive Secretary Ronaldo Zamora – has had his powers clipped and some of his functions taken over by other officials who know how to have their way with Mr. Estrada.

* * *

MEANTIME, what has the Estrada administration done to make good the President’s ringing declaration that he would liberate the poor from their dejection? Nothing.

Nothing noteworthy has been done by way of massive rehabilitation of the poor, but what’s more alarming is the lack of an integrated and sustained program to alleviate poverty and its ill effects.

We’ve been waiting for a year for the administration to show us a road map leading to a golden tomorrow of peace and plenty. There are scattered and occasional events said to be for the poor, but there is no integrated national longer-term program.

The truth is that the Estrada administration is just limping along, improvising from one crisis to another, explaining away one scam after another, reacting to one press release after another.

* * *

CALLING the owner/driver of a white Toyota Corolla (UPW-472) that allegedly figured in an incident on Gil Puyat Ave. in Makati near the intersection of Pasong Tamo. Reader Raymond Ciriaco suggests that the owner/driver could go to the Makati Medical Center and look into the reported case of an Erlinda Cabanhin.

Also paging Rep. Oscar Rodriguez of Pampanga one of whose Bridgestone tires burst at the Luzon North Expressway after a sharp object reportedly punctured it. His friends want to know if he is satisfied with the replacement, at no cost to him, of all the Bridgestone tires of his van with another brand. Also, if he will still insist on a congressional inquiry into poor quality tires.

One positive side of import liberalization is that importers and manufacturers of tires, batteries and accessories are unable to jack up their prices because the market has been flooded with foreign brands. The negative side, of course, is that fledgling local manufacturers are finding it difficult to compete. Well, they better grow up fast!

* * *

GOING back to that hefty portion of our last Postscript that suddenly disappeared, and which we reproduce today… it was not the fault of the proofreaders (the usual fall guys when typos are spotted) nor of Opinion Editor Ben Bernales (who has to contend with late columns and faxed copy crawling with handwritten corrections).

How it happened: I inadvertently pressed some keys that made some paragraphs “hidden text.” Hidden text appears on the screen with tiny dots under it, but it will not appear when the text is printed or received by a fax machine. In my case, I did not notice the small dots, which should have alerted me that some of the text had been made “hidden.”

Normally you hide text in Microsoft Word by selecting the text to be hidden and going to Format—Font and then checking Hidden with the mouse. If you want to use instead the keyboard, you press Shift & Ctrl (Control) together then press letter “h” after selecting the text to be hidden.

You still see the hidden text on the screen with tiny dots under the words – so you are aware of them – but the hidden text doesn’t print.

* * *

KIDS who are getting into computers are advised to learn what typing students of yore called “touch system,” which is using all your fingers to hit keys assigned to each of them. You do not crisscross the keyboard with your flying fingers.

It takes patience and practice to acquire this typing skill, but it will pay off eventually. If you have the chance to learn it now, even by yourself, do it.

We often get into situations where we have to copy “as is” or input text under pressure of deadline. We envy people who just look at the original text they are copying while their fingers fly without their having to look at the keyboard.

You don’t have to go to school to learn that. There are some self-learning software that lead you on exercises to gradually build up your typing speed and accuracy. Try them if you have the time.

* * *

POSTSCRIPT: Joey C. Escano, head of Infocom’s Customer Management Division, says sorry to subscribers who complain of a taped message leading them around in circles when they call instead of connecting them immediately to Technical Support. He said they are fixing the problem… Another reader who doesn’t want to be identified seeks help: “My office has Internet connection for certain (preferred) employees only, like managers and supervisors. I thought that this is unfair. How can I hack into the system so that I can use the Internet without being caught?”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 10, 1999)

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