POSTSCRIPT / June 13, 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Miriam’s mad we bought $27 cuffs for only $10?

IF you failed to read yesterday’s Sundry Strokes of Star columnist Rosalinda L. Orosa titled “Merill Lynch, listen to a most harrowing ordeal,” drop this column and please look for Baby Orosa’s piece first.

Some foreign executives in our midst are indeed ripe for lynching.

The victim in the road incident, a 23-year-old lady employee of a Makati hotel, should not stop till she gets justice from the visiting VIPs.

* * *

THERE are pictures in the papers of Taiwanese warships calling at the port of Manila. Every now and then we read or hear of similar visits of friendly foreign military vessels that also let off their crew for some rest and recreation.

This is a normal occurrence. We mean, it is and should be normal.

But if we adopt the reasoning of opponents of the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement who have petitioned the Supreme Court to nullify the Senate approval of the VFA, such temporary visits of foreign military personnel should not be allowed unless covered by a mutually ratified treaty.

* * *

THEIR reasoning is that under Section 25 of the transitory article (Article XVIII) of the Constitution, “foreign military bases, troops, or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty concurred in by the Senate… and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting State.”

Their interpretation of that section (which we think does not apply to the VFA) is absurd.

If we pursue that interpretation, these visits of the Taiwanese naval crew and of all other military personnel of all other countries without a mutually ratified treaty should not be allowed.

We cannot imagine such a sterile situation.

* * *

SECTION 25 that the opponents of the VFA invoke was written in anticipation of the expiration in 1991 of the RP-US Bases Agreement. We submit that the qualified ban applies only to permanent bases, permanently based troops, and permanent facilities. It does not apply to visiting friendly forces.

Section 25 was inserted in the charter because we did not want a repetition of those decades of hosting foreign bases, with their permanently based troops and permanent military facilities.

Anyway, a review of the minutes of the deliberations on the 1987 Constitution will bear this out.

* * *

BUT when the Senate approved the VFA recently by a vote of 18-5, the body was not acting under Section 25 of Article XVIII. Rather, it was exercising its power under Section 21 of Article VII (Executive Department) which provides that “No treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”

The need for Senate concurrence under Section 21 of Article VII is a check or a limitation of the Executive’s power to sign treaties and international agreements. The VFA was acted upon as an international agreement.

As for the wisdom of entering into such an agreement with the US, that is a political decision that the Estrada administration will defend before the people and not before the Supreme Court.

* * *

IF you receive an email that says “Hi (Name)! I received your email and I shall send you a reply ASAP. Till then, take a look at the attached zipped docs. Bye,” immediately DELETE that file!

It carries a new virus or worm, with the same modus operandi as the Melissa virus that nearly paralyzed worldwide email recently.

Tentatively called the Worm.ExplorerZip virus, it propagates itself in the same manner as Melissa. It is currently spreading across the Internet, deleting large numbers of files and altering the Win.ini file when users reboot.

Its message comes along with a zip file named Zip_files.exe, which if activated, will show a fake error message to the user. It seeks out in all the drives from A to Z all documents or files with these extensions: .c, .cpp, .asm, .doc, .sls, and .ptp, thereby deleting Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.

Even if you save or copy your files in another drive that is physically separate from the drive (usually C) that has the operating system, these files will be reached by this new virus or worm.

* * *

READER Ma. Isabela Martinez of 35 San Roque St., Katipolyo, Pasig City, writes to express disappointment with us and some traffic notes we ran in two previous columns. She says:

“I am referring to his driving antics—driving between the car of a former US ambassador and the van carrying the diplomat’s security detail. This was not only malicious and irresponsible—this could be very dangerous.

“I am even more disappointed at Mr. Pascual’s guts to write and brag about his childish act in a well-respected broadsheet only to make a point that, for not staying close to the envoy’s car, the security men were sleeping on the job. What if the security men were not sleeping. What if they started to shoot anyone who came between them and the ambassador. Imagine the traffic chaos not to mention the hazards other motorists would face in this scenario.

“I am also very disappointed that Mr. Pascual would still cite another traffic anecdote about a fellow journalist, Nonnie Pelayo, who would ‘impersonate’ in order to evade apprehension for violating traffic rules.

“If some of our journalists and opinion makers are wanting in social responsibility and moral ascendancy, what would happen to the reading public who is, oftenless, influenced by their opinions?”

* * *

I’M sorry, ma’am. I promise I will not stray again between an American ambassador’s car and his sleepy security detail. You’re right. I might get hurt and cause injury to others.

Also I will stop telling stories about news editor Nonnie Pelayo, although in that road incident that I recalled in Postscript, he didn’t violate any traffic rule and was only expressing exasperation over the well-known antics (if I may borrow the same term) of some traffic enforcers.

(Some media watchdogs say it is wrong to say “traffic enforcer” because we enforce rules, not traffic. But Postscript prefers to follow the common usage of the term).

* * *

THERE were many other readers, we would like to mention here, who had a different reaction to our stories about incidents on the road. Well, we guess it’s as usual a matter of opinion.

We can’t say if it is a positive or a negative development, but some readers have told me they are waiting for a chance to also invoke Article V (of the Traffic Code) which we cited one time we got entangled with overzealous traffic enforcers. Since that line is not copyrighted, they can freely use it.

Another reader was asking, in all seriousness, if really there is a Traffic Code of 1998, which I recalled having invoked. Frankly, I don’t know. But if there’s no such code, they should invent one, I think.

* * *

SOME others have written to ask for copies of my other Postscript column on how to beat Manila traffic (Feb. 28, 1999, issue). If I may say so myself, this was one of the few masterpieces I have written in my long journalistic career. So I send it to those who flatter me by asking for it.

I can send Ms. Martinez a copy, if she wants and if she can stand what it says.

As earlier mentioned, a friend offered to publish it in pamphlet form, but I said we might be dragged to court for inciting.

We cannot drop the subject without stressing that despite what we have been writing about traffic enforcers, we have nothing against them. In fact, we enjoy exchanging stories with them.

Believe me, traffic enforcers are a very interesting lot. When you get the chance to befriend one, do it. Then you’ll understand that they are, like us, also suffering souls.

* * *

WE hear that President Estrada is back from his travels. Good!

We want to ask him to talk to his kumare, Sen. Miriam Santiago, to please shut up for a while and recheck the papers she’s been waving from the safety of the Senate floor as she whales away at Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno.

In the case of the Smith & Wesson handcuffs that Miriam said were bought under an irregular deal, it seems the government even got a good bargain.

The handcuffs were bought at something like $10 a pair under the contract denounced by Miriam, when the price now is from $20 to $27. Former Manila Mayor Fred Lim, who should know about handcuffs, just came from the US and said that was their retail price.

At least Miriam is honest enough to admit that she has been going after Puno for what she and many others believe was his hand in the “Operations Dagdag-Bawas” that cost Miriam the presidency when she ran against Fidel V. Ramos.

If until now she cannot get over her bitterness, she should look for other things to throw at him. Anyway, we’re very sure her kumpare Erap will be able to lower her blood pressure.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 13, 1999)

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