POSTSCRIPT / June 29, 1999 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Like gambling, Erap gov’t is a game of chance, not skill

IT’S amazing that President Estrada preferred to cap his one year in office with his grand launching of online national bingo just days after he approved the reopening of jai-alai gambling and one of his closest advisers collected P147 million in baccarat winnings at his favorite casino.

His skewed priorities give us an inkling of how the President’s mind works, what interests him, what vision he has for this nation. Even those who had voted for him are now asking if Joseph Ejercito Estrada was prepared for the exalted office when he ran for the presidency.

Is it possible that, having successfully plied the masses with gimmicks and slogans, he now believes that all that’s needed to calm down a restive populace is to give it entertainment and some diversion? And a sliver of hope through gambling?

It makes one vomit to hear the President say that he was launching nationwide bingo for the poor! Gad! How many crimes have been committed in this administration in the name of the poor?

* * *

AFTER a week of tabulating Postscript readers’ assessment of the first year of President Estrada, we find that the responses still coming in merely affirm the earlier verdict of some 99 percent of our readers that the Estrada administration has been a resounding failure.

The most common complaints are still the return of the Marcoses and the cronies; the failure of the President to make good his inaugural promises to uplift the poor, to ban friends and relatives from influence-peddling and to rid government of big-time graft; and his inability to provide intellectual and moral leadership.

Today’s survey report, the third in the week, will be the last. But we’ll continue to receive and tabulate for our own consumption any more responses to the questions (1) What is President Estrada’s greatest achievement after one year? and (2) What is your greatest disappointment with him?

To round off today’s final tally, we have included responses sent by postal mail, fax and messenger to The STAR. But the bulk of responses came with our email.

* * *

HERE’S a sampling of the third wave of responses:

Victor Murillo, retiree, Mandaluyong: “We have survived calamities El Niño and La Niña. We pray we will also survive El Erap which we still have to endure for five more painful years. There is a deep-seated perception that Erap is very much beholden to the Marcos cronies and that he is being manipulated and taken advantage of. At the moment, he seems to be intoxicated by the lavish adulations heaped on him by those around him. Yet, Erap can still be a good president if he loves his country more than his ego.”

Erna Golez: “I did not vote for him but I was hopeful when he won that he will prove us wrong and turn out to be a good president. But if he can’t be faithful to his wife, how can we expect him to be faithful to his office?”

An RVM nun writing from the Betania Retreat House: “Biggest disappointment – Return of Marcoses and their cronies; abuse of power of his mistresses, children and kamaganak, including his drinking buddies; changes his statements, showing his lack of principles; nothing has been done for the poor worth noting; cannot handle his team (Cabinet, consultants, etc.); immorality (bed example).”

* * *

FROM Imelda G., 60: “I think this answers the two questions. I never expected anything from Erap. How can a man who has no order in his own personal life bring order and achieve something for the entire country?”

Encarnacion Magdalo, 24, employee: “Ako po ay clerk typist sa isang maliit na opisina. Nakigamit lang po ako ng e-mail dito sa opisina ng amo ko.

“Narinig ko ang aking mga ka-trabaho na pinag-uusapan ang inyong survey kaya naglakas-loob ako na sumulat para maipahiwatig sa inyo na hindi lang ang mga mayayaman at edukado ang nagagalit kay Erap. Kami ring mga taga-masa at mahihirap ay wala nang kagana-gana sa kanya. Ako po’y isa sa mga bumoto sa kanya at nagpakaloko sa kanyang ‘Erap Para sa Mahirao’ na gimik.

“Wala akong masasabi na greatest achievement ni Erap, kasi hindi kaya ng utak niya na pag-isipan kung ano ang mga solusyon sa mga problema natin. Ang kaya lang niyang tarukin ay ang mamintas at mambabae.”

* * *

C. REYNON, San Jose, Occ. Mindoro: “He is all air and bluster. No action. His walang kamakamaganak, walang kaibigan, walang kumpadre is now a classic. He said he would solve the drug problem in six months. It has been five months since that kickoff at Camp Vicente Lim. Are we now even halfway to solving the drug problem? Sabi niya noon kung hindi dahil sa poverty ang isang krimen malabo siyang i-commute. Bakit ngayon lahat ng successive rape with murder cases binibigyan niya ng reprieve? Wala siyang isang salita.”

EO of Baguio, 52: “Erap Para sa Mahirap – mas lalong naghirap sa loob ng one year. Erap para sa masa – Erap, patay lahat ang masa, prices of almost all basic goods have gone up. This year, rape cases with murder have multiplied. Unstoppable increases in prices of oil products. Yearly increase of tuition without corresponding improvement in quality of education. Special treatment for Marcos family.”

* * *

GERONIMO, 73, retired naval architect, from Hagonoy, Bulacan: Disappointment with Mr. Estrada – “Appointed an array of advisers and consultants all contributing to the chaos in government. No action.”

J.T. Golez: “My greatest disappointment was to find out that most of my countrymen are addicted to a life of mediocrity… What great accomplishment can we talk about? The increased greediness and selfishness of our officials, in the academe, in the church, and in our private lives? How about the degenerating social values of our society? And of course the choking traffic, the increasing pollution, and the anarchy in our streets, are these accomplishments?”

“Ate ng Bayan,” who described herself as a “blooming 82” and a retired school teacher (“That’s why I disdain dropouts,” she says.): “His greatest achievement — Through his glaring lack of leadership, nagawa niyang mag-intrigahan at maglabu-labo ang mga opisyales na nakapaligid sa kanya.” Biggest disappointment – “His greatest achievement.”

* * *

GABY Almeda, 35: “I’m sad that I now fear the police and the military. They are supposed to protect us and make us feel that we can run to them for help, but nowadays it is these same officers that are the bad guys. From the generals we see in the news who are involved in shady deals, from the motorcycle cops escorting 10-wheeler trucks to the unmarked cars who use their sirens to counterflow during peak traffic hours. I feel helpless against such people and pray that I may never encounter any of them in my lifetime. Erap as my President has failed me. But he still has five years to shape up!”

Jermando Lilimar D. Rodriguez, 27, married, employee: “His greatest achievement is projecting an image of a government that is tough on bandits, communists, separatists, grafters, and criminals. These bad elements are now afraid or have second thoughts to engage in unlawful activities.”

Hector N. Campos: “Greatest achievement – His giving hope to the poor, early in his term, to lift them from their poverty.”

Eliza, 67, retired director in government, married to a former Health official and mother of a UP dean: “Achievement — Talagang zero. Disappointment – Ay naku! His promises are all lies. I condemn the return of the Marcoses.”

* * *

WILLIAM M. Lou: “Me disappointed? Why should I, I didn’t vote for him. His campaign slogan Erap Para sa Mihirap… what has he done for those misguided masses? Nothing! Fantastic, isn’t it? And his rating, according to surveys, is going sky-high. The poor guy doesn’t seem to know what he’s saying. He said before he would not go abroad too much, but now he goes abroad left and right, even for weddings of his friends.

“He appointed his friends to juicy government positions and all they do is enrich themselves. The list of his mistresses seems to be getting longer, especially now with his position. The same for his passion for drinking, which is the main reason why he misses his morning appointments.

“Since he is so proud of being a college dropout, perhaps he should consider dropping out of the presidency too.”

* * *

EDITH Sabas, 43, MBA, Ateneo: “His greatest achievement – absolutely nothing, unless you can call an achievement his capacity to continue to lie and manloko ng masa with his so-called Erap Para sa Mahirap, when all he actually does is coddle and defend people without morals and/or the corrupt.

“Biggest disappointment: He sullied the highest office in the land (willingly and repeatedly kinakaladkad nang kinakaladkad through the mud) with his complete lack of morality, his inexperience, and with absolutely no management skills.”

JDL919, 45, who is running his own business in California: “His greatest achievement is living up to the only possible reason why he was voted upon by the masa – his entertainment value. The masa gets a daily dose of presidential theatrics and histrionics, tasteless jokes and one-liners that rival the best of whatever soap operas can offer. The masa deserve the kind of government they get.”

* * *

NAIZE de Pio: 25, Davao City employee: “I think nobody is taking him seriously. His Cabinet is marred by too many infighting and turf wars. So far, the country has been terribly mismanaged. And I’m afraid that the Philippines and her government are slowly becoming a laughingstock for the whole world.”

Sherman G. Senin: “Whatever (little?) achievements earned by Erap have been negated by his failure to deliver what he has promised. You don’t need to see statistics — just ask the regular man on the street on what he feels right now about the condition of life. Mr. Estrada has failed to do what he has promised. He does not act, talk and think like a real president. I do believe that he has good intentions. It’s just that he does not make his own decisions — he depends on his numerous advisers.”

* * *

LORNA Adviento: “Achievement — Protesting Malaysia’s Anwar Ibrahim’s fall and arrest. Disappointment — Lying and kowtowing to the Marcoses and their cronies.”

Arciaga, E: “Estrada’s greatest achievement is making rich his relatives, friends and associates and himself. My greatest disappointment is how he uses the poor as a facade for his uselessness and how the poor become even more gullible. He is the most effective liar I’ve ever seen. He says this and means that.

“Ang mga aso ay maiingay kapag malaman ang nilalapang mga buto. Look at his people everywhere. Maiingay, bangayan nang bangayan.”

Danny Galang: “Most significant achievement — appointing Barican as spokesperson. Most disappointing — insisting on doing his own speaking despite a spokesperson there.”

KDula39903: “Erap is the manifestation of the Filipinos’ collective momentary lapse into a state of stupidity during the last election. Come to think of it, we may even deserve him after what we did to the memory of EDSA.”

* * *

FROM: Edrie Alcanzare, 15: “In my opinion, Erap’s greatest achievement was to show that showbiz, being invited to parties hosted by social climbers, and rash comments (which shows that he is not firm in his opinions, especially about the death penalty issue) are more important than the economy, the status of our people and the crime rate.”

Nora Corpus, 49, government employee: “Mr. Estrada’s greatest achievement is making the poor believe he is pro-poor. He behaves as if the presidency is just any showbiz affair. His government has no direction as he does not control. His officials fight over power in public but not on policies and programs to improve the ordinary Filipino’s life.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 29, 1999)

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