POSTSCRIPT / December 3, 2000 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Do Ayala matrons eat with their maids, drivers?

DOES President Estrada want to lead us Forward, Backward, Sideward, Upward or Downward?

Public school teachers are patiently trying to inculcate health habits and table etiquette among their pupils. And now comes Erap Estrada taking pride in his high drama of going back to eating with his bare hands.

Public health workers are campaigning against an ingrained churchy “go forth and multiply” attitude toward family size and here he is sowing wild oats all over the place and helping population growth wipe out economic gains.

Every responsible leader in town is preaching national unity and here he is fomenting a class war, inciting the poor to hate and blame the rich for their and his problems.

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WE’RE asking our readers to tell us what they think: Is President Estrada leading the nation (1) Forward, (2) Backward, (3) Sideward, (4) Upward or (4) Downward? or (5) NOTA, or None Of The Above?

Please choose only one of the five answers above, and make sure you add your (a) very brief explanation, plus your personal circumstances of (b) age, (c) sex and (d) location.

Kindly use your original email address issued by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). We may disregard responses sent via secondary email addresses provided free by yahoo, hotmail, excite, lycos and other Internet search engines.

And please, no attachments. We’ll not open them anyway before consigning them to trash.

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WE have no serious objection to occasionally eating with our fingers, especially if we have before us big fat crabs. Or when we pop peanuts with our drink. Or if we were foraging in the jungle after surviving an air crash.

But wouldn’t it be nice next time to see the President in a barrio setting showing grade school kids how to use spoon and fork that he had just donated (with other table settings and kitchen ware) to the Home Economics department?

We also hope to see the President soon demonstrating the use of a tractor or such farm machine instead of him perennially patting his beloved carabao and commenting on its being of a rare “tubeless” variety.

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IT was cheap of the President to have ridiculed before a crowd of the mahihirap (the poor seem to be multiplying under his regime) the Makati “people power” lunch that brought together the rich and the poor railing against his maladministration.

He could not resist the temptation to point to the plastic spoon and fork used, and insinuate at the plastic-ness or hypocrisy of the al fresco lunch.

Maybe he wanted people who had gone through a dusty, sweaty morning to just sit down for an adobo lunch and attack the food with their bare hands on tables laid out on the streets. That’s pretty much like how his government is being run, isn’t it?

* * *

BUT, the Erap heckling aside, we are aching to ask some questions related to that Ayala street lunch.

Aside from agreeing that Erap should resign, we wonder what else the matrons and the common tao beside them talked about over lunch. We also wonder where each of them went after eating before the cameras.

Are the rich diners still willing to eat out with the poor? Back in their mansions, do the rich also eat with their maids and drivers at the same table?

And while we’re at it… do they treat and pay well their house help and allow them social security membership? In their businesses, do they pay their employees decent living wages so they will at least have good food for their families?

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WE’VE also been wondering… who is now doing the job lost by Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson of delivering millions in jueteng collections, he said, to Erap Estrada?

Somebody must be still skimming jueteng collections in Luzon, because the illegal numbers game is back with a vengeance, the tong is still being collected, and whoever was receiving the millions from Singson presumably still needs the money.

With the scuttling of the Bingo 2-Ball game designed by Pagcor to kill jueteng, the more reason jeuteng will flourish under more or less the same operators and the same guidelines for dividing the spoils.

It will still be a Merry Christmas for the jueteng lords, their protectors among local officials and the police, and the godfather with the ledger. The only difference, it seems, is the absence of Chavit.

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UNSOLICITED Advice: It might be a good idea for Senate President Aquilino Pimentel to stop delivering speeches and giving interviews touching even remotely on the impeachment process under way in the Senate.

By operation of the Constitution, Pimentel and 21 other senators now sit as judges in the first-ever impeachment trial in the country. The less the senators talk about the pending case, the process and their jobs as senator-judges, the better for them, the Senate and our fragile democracy.

At this point, the senators should not even try campaigning to gain credibility points as judges by explaining themselves. It’s too late for that.

* * *

BY continuing to talk on the impeachment case, even under the guise of explaining the process and the supposed impartiality of the Senate, Pimentel is being perceived as campaigning as the dark horse in the presidential line of succession.

While Estrada is being pummeled black and blue by his detractors and Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is being mauled by Erap’s demolition boys, Pimentel is busy making pa-pogi.

Who knows nga naman, both Estrada and Arroyo might just be found guilty and removed.

If the two top officials of the land are ousted, the Senate president moves up to act as president while a regular Chief Executive (Erap again?) is chosen in a special election. Do not count out this exciting probability, considering how politics is in these parts.

Meantime, Pimentel’s failure to gag himself, as he himself earlier suggested to fellow senators, is not doing him and the impeachment process any good.

* * *

READER Jimmy F.P. Perez of Cityland Townhouses adverts to a Q&A interview of Pimentel with CNN’s Riz Kahn program last Dec. 1.

Perez reports that in response to a question on loss of confidence on the Philippines, Pimentel said that this is not related to the impeachment problem of President Estrada and that loss of confidence is more due to the “unrest” caused by the demonstrations and rallies.

Addressing himself to Pimentel, Perez says: “You are now exactly aping the statements of Estrada on the matter. For this, you have already lost your credibility and for that matter the whole Senate. With your echoing the statements of Estrada, how can we expect a fair impeachment trial? Your statement will aggravate the perception that the Senate impeachment trial is but a ‘palabas’.

“My daughter who is in Grade VI can give you a lecture on cause and effect. The effects are the rallies and demonstrations of people who are already fed up with the administration. The cause of all this is the problem of Estrada as highlighted by his impeachment. Do not blame the effects. Blame the cause, President Estrada, and the charges that brought his impeachment.”

* * *

THE Church’s cracking down on El Shaddai boss Mike Velarde churned a variety of reactions, most of them supportive of moves to check on the money-making activities of Velarde, his partiality for his benefactor, and his seeming detachment from doctrinal control.

But Edgar Dufourt of Taguig says: “Do we have to blame Mike Velarde? Partly, maybe. And Mike should be stopped. But it should be the Catholic Church leaders to be blamed if their members are going nowhere. It’s a failure of Cardinal Sin et al. (especially the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines) to unify the members.

“They found Velarde more charming and entertaining — and he seems to satisfy their hunger and poverty. Velarde promises everything under heaven — money, food and luxury in exchange of their money and contributions and their weekly attendance at the Luneta.

“Cardinal Sin has a lot of homework to do.”

Another reader, Vi Massart writing from France, says: “I am afraid that Cardinal Sin does not hold any holy mandate to crack down on any religious group. Why? Because he has transgressed the ultimate vow of priesthood, humility. I am a Catholic, but I am not inclined towards the religion of Cardinal Sin , a religion that boasts of a Hail Caesar attitude.”

* * *

ON our comment that the protest marches should continue if Erap Estrada clings on, Raffy Lavilla using a beijing.oilfield address, said: “Your analogy is entirely wrong. I suggest that you enroll yourself to a defensive driving course and learn more about engines.”

He was referring to our saying (that the marches must go on): “This is akin to driving. Once you reach the desired cruising speed on the highway, do you remove your foot from the gas pedal since the vehicle is already well on its way?”

Jing Lacson from a Makati firm, however, found our analogy appropriate, adding, “Your comparing the anti-Erap campaign to a cruising car that needs continuous supply of gas is also applicable to business. Just because sales have been brisk does not mean that we can forego with advertising and promotions and let the business cruise on sheer momentum.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 3, 2000)

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