POSTSCRIPT / September 7, 1999 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Some are still smarter than others under Erap

IF intelligence reports reaching Malacañang are any indication, businessman Lucio Co is one of the most fortunate operators today. Although he has landed in the Palace list of suspected big-time smugglers; he has been the beneficiary of the largesse of the administration – whether President Estrada is aware of it or not.

For one, Co got the juiciest warehousing contract with Duty-Free Philippines Inc. and is identified with the lucrative warehousing business in Clark Field, Pampanga.

In l986, Co reportedly had only $100 million safely deposited abroad. The bulk of his earnings came not only from imports of cheap Indonesian glassware, but also from other commodities being dumped in the country.

With his business soaring, Co bought a brand-new chopper. The aircraft is reportedly at the disposal of a top Customs official who happens to know the ins and outs of smuggling, including the intricate formulas for skirting payment of duties and taxes.

Intelligence sources report that Co has been dropping the name of President Estrada. This has irritated officials at Customs and the Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau who have standing orders to stop smuggling. They have asked the President to clamp down on Co and several others on their watchlist.

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EVEN grizzled Customs habitues are amazed at how Co’s turf has expanded since President Estrada came to power. Intelligence reports mention the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the Mail Distribution Center, the South Harbor, and the Manila International Container Port as his area of operations.

He is acknowledged as the main player in the big warehousing business in Clark. The former US base has been pinpointed as the source of millions of kilos of Tyson chicken products that mysteriously find their way out of Clark for sale to Metro Manila residents.

The smuggling of cheap chicken from abroad has killed the once booming poultry contract growing business. Local chicken simply cannot compete with the cheap smuggled variety.

Co is reported to have cornered the imports requirements of Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and others in the mall business. That must be a more lucrative preoccupation than engaging in the more risky manufacturing business.

* * *

AFTER Co and several others were named in confidential memoranda sent to President Estrada on alleged smuggling lords, a crackdown was announced by Malacañang. Despite the thundering Palace press statements, however, a certain Jaime de Chavez – also listed – and only him appears to have been spared. Why?

It could be that President Estrada is still “hindi pa tapos” with his crackdown on smugglers and other economic saboteurs. Palace sources said there would be fireworks after the President’s return from his upcoming foreign trips.

But why not now? And why come down hard on the rest and exempt this De Chavez? What’s so special about him?

* * *

THERE’S some fear that come Sept. 9 (this Thursday), some computers or computer networks would hang as in a minor preview of the more extensive Y2K or Millenium Bug cataclysm set to be triggered with the first tick of the new millenium clock on Jan. 1, 2000.

The date this Thursday is 9-9-99 or 9999, which some lazy programmers used to employ as an end mark. If this command appears in a program running in your computer, its processor might just execute the end command and stop everything.

To use a parallel in journalism, some of the older practitioners (hammering on their typewriters) used to type xxx or 30 at the end of the story to close the text. This explains why the obituary of a reporter sometimes says he had written “30.”

* * *

IF you’re using a stand-alone personal computer (PC) of recent vintage, the probability is that you won’t suffer any hitch. But to play safe, tamper with your PC’s internal clock to mislead your computer.

If you’re using Windows, go tomorrow (Sept. 8) to Start->Settings->Control Panel->Date/Time and set the calendar to Sept. 10 so the system will skip Sept. 9. On Sept. 10, which is Sept. 12 as far as your computer is concerned, turn back your internal calendar to the correct date of Sept. 10, and breathe a sigh of relief.

Breathe a sigh of relief because Sept. 9, 1999, will never come again to bother you.

If you’re one of the rare species who are not yet using Bill Gates’ Windows operating system, you will have to tamper with your internal calendar by going to CMOS. That’s a tricky operation that we outlined in a previous Postscript.

* * *

BUT don’t relax yet. The tireless virus writers have come out with another one that has set various agencies and anti-virus companies busily working out vaccines and announcing warnings.

There is now the “W97M.Thus.A” virus, also known as “W97.Thursday” and “W97M.Automat.K.” It will be triggered on Dec. 13. This is a macro virus that infects Word 97 documents and tries to delete all files and subdirectories from the root of the C: drive. The virus also disables the macro virus protection in Word 97.

The date-based trigger reminds us of the Chernobyl or CIH virus that nearly paralyzed worldwide networks last April 26 (anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown). We have unverified reports that Chernobyl-like problems occur in some systems every 26th of the month.

* * *

THE best defense against viruses and similar destructive programs is to install an anti-virus software that can detect/block viruses in data that you’re copying or downloading from diskettes and other sources including the Internet and email.

What’s the best anti-virus software? We cannot endorse any brand. All we can say is that among the most popular are Norton and PC-cillin.

These are usually pre-installed when you buy a new computer. It takes money and time to buy an anti-virus CD and install it. Make sure the store gives you the anti-virus CD when you buy a PC with a pre-installed anti-virus software.

One problem is that your anti-virus software will prove ineffective against viruses written and propagated after you bought the software. You have to periodically update your anti-virus defenses.

One convenient way of doing this is to connect to the Internet and download (for free) the latest version of your brand of anti-virus software. But if your software is a pirated version or an unauthorized copy, the anti-virus company may refuse to download an update to you.

* * *

A READER in the United States ( using the initials RYE took offense at our using the term “national turncoat” to refer to Filipinos who had renounced their citizenship to take on another nationality.

We wrote earlier: “Filipinos who by their acts have renounced their citizenship can no longer be considered Filipinos under the Supreme Court ruling cited. Now if Congress passes a law recognizing such national turncoats as still Filipinos, that is an entirely different matter.”

We never meant to use the term “national turncoat” in a pejorative sense. In fact we have family members who are naturalized Americans and whose decision we understand and respect. But since the term appears to have offended some readers, we apologize for it.

RYE said in his email: “For me, and Mr. Webster, ‘turncoat’ means somewhat of a ‘traitor.’” I assure you, me and most Filipinos that took the same route are not. As you had written in your previous columns, there are so many compelling reasons why one pledges allegiance to another country; yes, too many reasons.

“Had it occurred to you that most of us who sweated it out, away from our loved ones to make ends meet, had contributed enormously to our economy, underground or not. I believe you used this description on the wrong group of Filipinos. I also believe that you owe us an apology.”

* * *

ANOTHER reader, Mcdiaz, also using an address, contributes valuable information on dual citizenship which is being discussed in Postscript:

“Children of Filipino green card holders whose parents becomes US citizen by naturalization will be automatically conferred US citizenship if the children are still minors when the parents acquired US Citizenship by naturalization. These children are of course having dual citizenship status since they acquired the US citizenship without renouncing their Filipino citizenship. This is called derivative US Citizenship.”

Many other readers had written on dual citizenship. Some were asking for help in “making lakad” their papers for recognition as Filipinos. Many posed questions that are best addressed to a lawyer, which I am not.

The last Postscript attempted a scattergun reply to many of the questions. We hope the concerned readers read that piece last Tuesday despite its many typographical and grammatical errors (no fault of the proofreader, but ours).

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 7, 1999)

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