POSTSCRIPT / December 28, 2000 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Here are some Santa clues on identity of Jose Velarde

WANT to know who Jose Velarde really is? Reader D. Conti of Muntinlupa shares with us this information:

“Drive in the evening through the Alabang-Zapote road in Las Piñas and there you would see Jose Velarde shamelessly climbing down the electric posts Akyat Bahay-style with a bagful of loot slung over his shoulder.”

Conti advises that Velarde’s true identity is revealed only in the evening when the Christmas lanterns are on. During the day, Velarde is “disguised as Santa Claus with a bag of goodies, including presumably spurious land titles and lunch packs to be eaten with bare hands.”

Taxpayers and the prosecution panel in the impeachment trial may want to check this out and establish, finally, the true identity of Jose Velarde.

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PRESIDENT Estrada’s position is becoming more and more untenable, if we’re reading correctly the tenor of readers’ responses to our survey asking what they think is the Best Exit for the President who was hit in the Senate last Friday by the same lightning he had wished for people who tell lies.

The Erap Options to choose from in the Postscript survey are:

  1. The President negotiates an acquittal, but agrees to resign soon after.
  2. The President is acquitted as pre-arranged, goes on a leave of absence (extended vacation), and turns over the reins of government to the Vice President. His return to resume performing his duties would be subject to further negotiation.
  3. The President accepts a guilty verdict and leaves office, but with an understanding that he would be pardoned by the incoming President.
  4. The President should just resign unconditionally without waiting for the conclusion of the impeachment trial.

(NOTE: Without specifying, we said last Tuesday that one of the Erap Options was legally flawed. We were referring to Option 3 — conviction, followed by pardon. Section 19, Article VII, of the Constitution explicitly forbids presidential pardon for an impeached official. So that option is out.)

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SOME of the responses that we can cram in today’s space:

Jett E. Aviñante, 65, Ayala Alabang: Option 2 (acquittal, then leave, and replacement by Vice President) is not only legal but also the most humane, most peaceful and could be the most acceptable to majority of Filipinos.

Conrad G. Javier, 68, Cleveland, Ohio: Option 4 — resign now unconditionally. Filipinos in the country and the over 15 million around the world will be very thankful for cutting short the impeachment proceedings and giving the economy a booster. He will receive the accolade of his loved ones and friends for not subjecting them to further embarrassments. Filipinos are very forgiving.

Hanzel Leano: Option 4. It is impossible for him to prove his innocence. Even if the senators acquit him, he is forever condemned in the eyes of the people. Resignation is the quickest way to restore credibility. Pardoning him would set a precedent for future presidents — that it’s okay to steal billions.

Jose Guerrero, msn: In the spirit of Christmas and a coming new year, just let our President be pardoned before judgment and let him return those unexplained wealth as a condition for his pardon. If possible too, let him identify those who had participated in the plunder.

Jun B. Lintag, California: He should just resign unconditionally. Give him the benefit of a doubt that he is really serious in being Erap para sa mahirap, except that his cronies and so called friends succeeded in derailing him. Those bank transactions that were exposed last Friday are too complicated for him to figure out himself. It is obvious now that he was and still is being used by smart but evil associates.

Beth E. Angeles, Fabella, Mandaluyong: Option 1 is a win-win solution, although Option 4 is best. It will save the face of the President, history will be kinder to him, and he will be kind to the nation as well. The question is, will he keep his promise to resign soon after his acquittal?

Raul S. Picardo, San Francisco, Calif.: None of the four options would benefit the country. There should be no plea bargain. Estrada should not be allowed to resign. The impeachment trial should proceed to conclusion if only to allow the people to hear each senator explain his or her vote. But the best scenario would be for Estrada to take the stand and testify to what he gave to and/or did for Tessie Oreta (is she really a sister of the hero Ninoy Aquino? Unbelievable!), Miriam Santiago, John Osmena, et al., to earn their blind loyalty.

Ibong, globe: Option 4. Erap must resign unconditionally. Otherwise an unpunished crime may be a motivation for another person to commit crime while in office in the future.

Ngespiritu, New York: Option 4. He should resign unconditionally and be prosecuted together with his minions. His crime and M.O. should be outlined in the media. The people should be educated so that they can be responsible citizens and not get suckered in by any two-bit has-been macho actor. All those who stuck with Erap out of self interest should be exposed and disqualified from public office through a campaign of public humiliation. Never again! We should not forget this time. We forgot what Marcos and his cohorts did, that is why we are reliving this phase in our nation’s history.

Ecempron, Your options are too light for a man who manhandled Filipino society. Lying after lying, he tells us he is innocent. Let the trial continue. The thief Marcos was able to evade the wrath of the people, this time justice should prevail. Let’s show to the world that Philippine democracy is alive and kicking (Erap’s) ass.

Wenceslao B. Francisco: Option 4. Erap should resign unconditionally now. I expect him as leader to serve the country with the highest ethical moral standard. After resignation, he must face our court to prove his innocence.

Epi Espaldon, Ayala Alabang: In my opinion, it is time for President Jose Velarde to resign.

Edwin Vivar, Perhaps Erap learned from history that we did not get justice from Marcos and now they are back in power. This mean that any president can commit graft and corruption and once caught may be removed from office and get humiliated (but only for a while) but can still make a comeback. In short, walang hustisya, a bad precedent now being followed by Erap. Anyway Marcos is Erap’s idol. Filipinos never learn.

Megancanda, South Amboy, New Jersey: Option 4. He should just resign unconditionally. His big lie is way too obvious. His constant denial mocks the intelligence of Filipinos. He is trying to show his human side these days but it looks so phoney and preposterous. Please give yourself a little dignity and save the Filipino people from further misery.

Caesar C. Lariba, 39, Quezon City: I am less forgiving and would consider only the last painful option for him. There will be no “utang na loob” for the senator-jurors, the opposition, et cetera, a good trait commonly abuse by Filipinos for self-serving interests. It would set a precedent on accountability for those in the government and/or planning to enter the service. It is the fastest way to end the impeachment proceedings that had adversely affected our economy. It would reinstill and advocate “delicadeza.”

Yol, 39, female, SBMA, Olongapo City: Option 4. The President should just resign unconditionally now. I believe the witnesses (Lim, Ocampo, Singson, etc.), because nobody can bravely face the court just to tell a lie. Though his lawyers thought they knew the truth, they are still trying to fight it.

Adelbert S. Batica, Minneapolis, Minnesota: It’s time to tell the people the truth, that’s really all they want. I don’t give a damn if Clarissa Ocampo is related to the Tañadas, I only want to know one thing: did Erap open an account under a fictitious name or didn’t he? Let’s forget about the singer, let’s focus on the song. Let the legal defense team cut out the crap and all that mumbo-jumbo, because people are only interested in the truth.

Cris Lorenzana, 31, Makati: Option 4. The President should just resign unconditionally now. Options 1 to 3 are too much in his favor. Why should he go unscathed after causing us and our nation too much pain and shame?

P. A. Meneses, San Juan: Option 4. Just resign unconditionally, period. The sooner, the better. He and his handlers would do well to ponder on these words of Mahatma Gandhi: “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall — think of it, always.”

Nimfa C. Tangcuangco, Option 4. The President has lost all moral authority to govern and people have lost respect for him as their president. I guess they don’t even believe him anymore when he says something. I would want to see him indicted in criminal court for all his crimes. He should answer for all of them. I most especially loved what you wrote when you said: “We think he should stop treating this nation the way he has been treating his women.” 

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 28, 2000)

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