POSTSCRIPT / February 3, 2000 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Drunkenness: Mitigating, extenuating or aggravating?

PRESIDENT Estrada said yesterday over radio that he did not notice that one of some 500 prisoners’ records was one for pardoning Norberto Manero whose armed gang butchered an Italian priest in 1985 and made a show of feasting on his brain.

The eerie admission leaves one numb. So this is how this country is being governed. Indeed, we better continue praying.

There is absolutely no need for any group – media, church or political – to plot destabilization as this actor pretending to be president appears to be his own worst enemy. Without help from anybody, Mr. Estrada is destabilizing himself.

Okay lang sana, but the guy is taking the entire country down with him.

* * *

Mr. Estrada’s spokesman tried explaining this heinous abuse of the president’s power by saying that nobody objected to the then impending pardon of Manero, aka Kumander Bucay of the dreaded Civilian Home Defense Forces in Mindanao at the time.

But how can anybody object when Malacañang precisely hid the clemency plan from the public?

Malacañang again tried shifting the blame to the previous administration by pointing out that the life sentence of Manero was commuted to 14 years in 1998 by then President Ramos.

Maybe next time, a Palace apologist might blame the victim Fr. Tullio Favali for his sordid fate: Had the Italian missionary not come to the Philippines he would not have been killed and his brains literally picked.

* * *

WITH their monumental fumbling, is it possible that President Estrada and his boys are preparing a pat defense for possible impeachment?

With all these antecedent incidents, who knows somebody in Malacañang might be laying the basis for pleading insanity.

By the way, it was still early morning when President Estrada said on radio that he did not notice he was signing the pardon papers of Manero. My barber asked if he was then nursing a hangover.

But we heard him loud and clear. Despite his trademark slur, he sounded in full possession of his alleged faculties.

* * *

REMINDS us of that incident last week when the President denied his “nation is in crisis” speech the next day. This is called the morning-after habit.

Somebody who tried explaining away the President’s chronic (rhymes with “hic,” doesn’t it?) flip-flopping, said somebody might have been under the influence when he read the speech and did not realize what he was reading.

We used to have a roommate from UP Law who stumped us uninitiated engineering freshmen joining him for beer. He threw us this poser: In law, is drunkenness an extenuating, mitigating or aggravating circumstance?

Will somebody please give us the correct answer, which suddenly is very relevant to the state of the nation?

We promise to give a prize to the first reader to send what we consider to be the best answer. But please do not wrap your answer in thick legalese. Kindly explain it so simply and clearly that even a dropout would understand. Keep it short.

* * *

OUR high school teacher once told us that some of the best poems were written while the author’s emotions were in a heightened state. In college, a journalism teacher told us that when one feels strongly about a subject, he is often able to write in a more engaging, forceful style.

But another teacher in another discipline noted that one should hold back when angry or provoked or challenged. He said one might write or say something he would regret later.

What do we think? Well, in our trade, one does not wait to be provoked. All we normally need is a deadline and a loaded computer. Sometimes, however, a “White Paper” is enough to stoke the fire in us.

* * *

WE told you so. Just as we predicted, Stanley Ho’s floating restaurant has just been given a clearance by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The only surprising element was that the DENR gave it that fast.

Suddenly the nine-year-old Hong Kong relic sitting by the bay was environment-friendly? Only two days earlier, Environment Secretary Antonio Cerilles threw the kitchen sink at the Jumbo resto, and was scouring the book for more violations.

His press release on the alleged violations was still rolling off the fax machine when word of Ho’s clearance overtook it. The fast worker deserves a pat on the back from the Boss. We’re sure such efficiency will not go unappreciated by the gallant papal knight from Macau.

* * *

WE suggest that Cerilles not waste his momentum. While he is at it, we reiterate our challenge for him to send his inspectors to reexamine the waste disposal system of all major restaurants and hotels along Roxas Blvd.

City Hall sources have told us that some of these establishments dump their yucky liquid wastes directly into the bay without adequate treatment.

The good secretary would not want it said, di ba?, that he is engaged in selective harassment in the grand tradition of City Hall’s lucrative “close-open” program.

* * *

IT’S nauseating to hear the oil companies’ spokesman, Energy Secretary Mario Tiaoqui, tell radio listeners that new players aside from the Big 3 (Petron, Shell and Caltex) also raised their prices because the prices of the petroleum products that they import has gone up.

People might believe Tiaoqui’s tall tale. Even the supposedly well-informed anchor of the radio show he was talking with appeared to have taken his statement at face value.

The public must be told the truth that most of the new small players operating gas stations do not import their supply but buy it from the Big 3’s depots in Pandacan.

Just the other night, we were told by a supervisor of a Total gas station that they had no choice but to also raise their retail prices because Caltex, where they buy their supply, had raised its prices.

* * *

PRESIDENT Estrada, who seems to have been hypnotized by Tiaoqui, keeps muttering again and again that the oil firms actually wanted to raise their prices by more than a peso, but that he talked them into reducing their markup.

We’re supposed to thank Mr. Estrada for this wornout gimmick of quoting an excessively high price then kunwari reluctantly agreeing to a lower price? We don’t know if we should laugh or weep.

The President also swears that the prices of other goods will not go up, because – according to him — the price increase for oil products is only minimal. He conveniently failed to mention, of course, that they have been raising the price little by little (around 45 centavos per liter) every now and then so the people do not feel its impact.

But over several months of such creeping increases, the accumulated jump in prices is staggering. To government officials like the President, this is not a problem because they do not pay for their expensive gasoline. We taxpayers do.

* * *

READER Butch Reyes asks: “What brand of anti-virus software is best to install? Is it really that important to use one since I don’t store any important files in my computer. I use it only for surfing the Net and sending and replying to emails. I do however refrain from opening email attachments too and download only from reputable websites.”

Honestly, we’re not competent to say which is the best AV software since our experience revolves mainly around PC-cillin only. This software appears satisfactory to us since, aside from scanning and cleaning, it also blocks incoming viruses.

PC-cillin (OEM version) is often bundled in the CD that comes with hardware or software. It can be updated periodically, for free, via the Internet.

* * *

ANOTHER brand that seems to be well recommended, in fact spoken highly by more expert users, is Norton. The Norton CD is loaded with other popular software and useful tools.

A PC user must have a good AV software even if he “only” surfs the Net. Even the giant and reputable websites have been hit, so nobody’s really that clean or safe. Email is another common source of infection.

In fact, without your knowing it, there might be a dormant virus already in bed with your files waiting for the trigger date when it would go wild. As precaution, monitor friends and family members who borrow your PC and insert diskettes they had used elsewhere.

* * *

WE repeat this announcement: POSTSCRIPT emailers who want to engage us or have their comments printed must use the ORIGINAL email address provided by their Internet Service Providers (ISP).

Messages from anonymous readers using search engines and free email facilities such as yahoo, hotmail and similar secondary addresses will be verified. But be assured that mail from whatever address that our nth sense tells us is authentic will continue to be entertained.

We just want to curtail the organized mass mailing of Malacañang’s media handlers desperately trying to bend or break the public mind.

* * *

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

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