POSTSCRIPT / December 24, 2000 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Proof of Estrada guilt a timely Christmas gift

THE nation can now fully savor the spirit of the season after the explosive testimony last Friday in the impeachment trial of President Estrada cleared the air on the true identify of the Jose Velarde who had signed big checks linked to questioned transactions.

For a worrisome while, we thought we would have to observe a Christmas wrapped in uncertainty. We thought we would have to face a new year with portents of even more difficult days ahead.

But suddenly, a God-sent witness — Clarissa Ocampo — an official of Estrada’s own bank stepped forward to confirm by personal knowledge and legal documents that indeed Jose Velarde is none other than Joseph Ejercito Estrada, our president who is sworn to uphold the law and do justice to every man.

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THE long-suffering country deserves to start the New Year with a new president. If President Estrada cares for what’s good for him and the country, he would now resign and pack up.

He would have to face the reality that a President already convicted in the public mind can no longer govern effectively.

The impeached President would just be fomenting civil strife and inflicting more damage to the nation if he insists on clinging on while defending the indefensible.

Mr. President, there is no defense against the truth.

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WHATEVER President Estrada, his lawyers and his propagandists say or do now, the second article (for graft and corruption) in the impeachment charge sheet has been proved in the mind of the public, the ultimate judge.

Based on the testimony made and the evidence submitted so far, Estrada has amassed a large fortune grossly out of proportion to his family’s legitimate income and has used unexplained wealth to fund huge questionable transactions.

Note that the P500-million used in the transaction cited last Friday is just part of a P1.2-billion secret account in the Equitable-PCI Bank, where the witness is senior vice president.

And that account hidden under the name of Jose Velarde is reportedly just one of several accounts of the President in just one bank.

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THE President’s lawyers may succeed in expunging the damaging testimony from the records, the Senate premises housing the documents may burn down, the witness herself may suffer (God forbid!) a Bubby Dacer fate before she could be cross-examined, the presidential pals among the senator-judges may step up their holding action, his propagandists may organize massive pro-Erap rallies and distribute land and lollipop, surveys upon surveys may be manufactured to show his rising popularity… but all that will not alter the fact that Estrada has been found guilty in the public mind.

In fact, the prosecution can throw away the three remaining articles of impeachment and still be able to nail down the President.

Mr. President, tapos na po ang boksing. The people, long deprived of good news, are already celebrating their victory.

* * *

STILL, we cannot discount the possibility that his allies among the senator-judges might close their eyes to the glaring truth and cast a vote dictated by their personal, partisan interests.

Besides, from the legal point of view, the President is still entitled to his day in court. We have to grant Mr. Estrada that sporting formality of our listening to him.

But the nation is badly wounded, Mr. President, and cannot wait any longer.

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WE have asked in our little one-week survey among readers what to them would be the Best Gift for President Estrada, he who has the presidency in his pocket and the billions that are said to go with it.

Here’s what some of them would want him to receive:

Yurocare, aol: A petition letter from his sons and daughters to quit and resign his post. Maybe this way good sense will come his way and he’ll resign.

Bamba Bancod: (1) Recently cleaned ears so he can clearly hear the people’s pleas for him to resign and spare the country from further hardship and kahihiyan. (2) Scraper to take off excess face dahil sobrang kapal ng mukha! (3) Brains so he’ll know what “Resign” means. I suspect he thinks resign means to sign again. (4) Lots of papaya para wag na niyang dagdagan ang mga mistresses niya! (5) Conscience.

Joselito L. Esmeralda, 28, Makati City: Lie detector equipment so he can practice ahead of time, just to make sure he’s well prepared once he decides to testify in the impeachment trial.

Leonardo, 30, Marikina: A half kiloton atom bomb so we can be sure that he and his entire genetic pool will never again infect the Philippines with their sick rendering of “public service” and their twisted version of a “clean conscience.”

Ed Amorozo, Cavite: A new “kabit” and a new mansion, and a reinforce tuhod.

John Lisboa, 30s, from Kuwait: Anything that says 13, trese… or No. 13 like “bingo two balls” because he believes in “kulam” or superstitions or vices rather than in values and virtues or “delicadeza” or dignity and even human reality.

Ernie Chaves, Lakewood, WA: Conscience. If he can heartfully receive it with grace and use it, he will resign.

Ghie Aldave, 27, Cubao, Quezon City: A crystal ball so he can see clearly the misery he is causing to us Filipinos and a very big bag so he can pack his things and leave Malacañang for the good of our nation!

Carlos B. Manalastas: Lots of beautiful women to (censored) his (censored) and satisfy his urges, and more jueteng money to finance his vices and mistresses.

B. Sebastian Ledesma R, Infocom: A ticket to another planet or part of this Global Village and/or an email message: “It’s not you on trial, Mr. President. It’s the Erap presidency, your midnight Cabinet, your coterie of allies, appointees and apologists.”

Adel Perez, 37, Hong Kong: (1) A brain, so that he can think clearly. (2) A heart, so he’ll be able to feel the heartaches he is giving to the Filipino people. (3) A new pair of eyes so he may see the embarrassing spectacle he has put our country in before the world.

Darius de Guzman, Pacificnet: Truth serum so the nation will know the true owner of the mansions.

Jun B. Lintag, California: Wisdom. His greatest asset is his popularity as an actor. Let us pray that God guides him in attracting good, intelligent and selfless men and women to help him give our people prosperity and honest leadership.

Gil Ligad, netasia: A grant of citizenship by Brunei, complete with passport and airline ticket. Inasmuch as Erap already has billions, he can live like the Sultan of Brunei, bring all his mistresses to live with him there, and leave all his problems behind. This does not imply, however, the grant of immunity to him.

Jay Entruda, Iowa, US: Erap loves to eat lechon. I’ll gift him this and I hope he will eat much, if not finish it all drunk. He then goes to sleep in the early hours of Christmas day with his unduly provoked bad cholesterol and his erratic blood pressure zooming to unprecedented height.

South Amboy, New Jersey: A cheap bottle of wine, a has-been bar girl, a few cents and a skunk.

Ched E. Arzadon, Dagupan City: A new conscience. It seems to me that what he’s got now is hardened, seared, and inutile to do its sole function of determining what is right from wrong.

Joey Legarda, 40, Makati: It’ a big problem what to give a character who seems to have everything and at the same time nothing. A new pair of balls, brain, and above all a conscience. His movie roles are a complete lie of what he is in reality.

639192063750.gsm (Smart), Rizal: Resignation paper to please the opportunists.

Amy Lo, 31, executive secretary to a French company: Erap deserves a silver guillotine (gold may have been a choice but it’s a soft metal) as Christmas gift. A guillotine cuts clean, maybe gruesome but at least very quick, less dramatic and a sure bearer of (painless?) death.

Jimmy L. Mendoza, 26, Sampaloc, Manila: A big bag for his jueteng collection money.

Michael S. Rivera, UG-7 Cityland8, Makati: Cyanide capsules.

Ranonuevo, 34, New Jersey: Good moral sense. He would need this to finally hear that small inner voice and admit all his mistakes and begin a new life with honesty, uprightness, impartiality and rectitude.

Jun639193272985.gsm (Smart), Makati: More women. It’s very him.

Beck Felizardo, 52, Paco: A white paper and ballpen, for him to write to the Filipino people these words: “I quit.”

Dano Bonifacio, Seattle, WA: Courage to face and accept reality. If George Go, his crony, was able to resign to save his bank (which he owns), why can’t Erap have the guts to do the same to save a country?

Gil Utanes, Sta. Rosa, Laguna: Integrity. To paraphrase Steven R. Covey in his “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Principle-Centered Leadership” — Integrity is the value one puts on one’s self. Integrity is honor. It is keeping commitments meaningful in fairness to others who are party to an agreement. Careful preparation is spent with the end in mind of being a significant participating element of a solution. Thoughtful anticipation to fulfill a commitment on time for commitment is involvement, believing and liking what one has to do or does. Making and keeping promises and commitments meaningful help develop self-awareness, self-value, and respectability. Persistence towards self-respect is a foundation for true and effective interrelationship.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 24, 2000)

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