POSTSCRIPT / January 4, 2000 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Why Erap's popularity keeps dropping in polls

POSTSCRIPT readers are invited to send in their considered opinion on President Estrada’s latest poll rating.

The question: What are the three main reasons for the drop to five percent of the net approval rating of President Estrada in the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations?

Each item on your list of three reasons must be a brief one-liner. If you want to elaborate, please add your remarks at the end of your message, not in your 1-2-3 listing.

To help us weigh your response, please list your three reasons in descending order from the (1) MOST LIKELY reason, to (2) MORE LIKELY, and down to (3) LIKELY reason. The first (most likely) reason on your list will be given highest weight, and the third or last (likely) reason the lowest weight.

For our info, kindly indicate your address, age, sex, and (optional) line of work or profession. Send responses via email (preferred) or some other fast means. Write “ERAP POLL” in the email or fax subject line, or on the envelope if you’re sending your response by mail or messenger.

* * *

FOR lack of anything more sensible to say, Erap Estrada attributed to the law of gravity the dismal drop (to just two percent in Metro Manila) of his net approval rating. “There’s no way to go but down!” he remarked.

Of course we don’t take seriously this smart-alecky quip that what goes up must come down. In the first place, it’s not true. At least, not in this hapless country.

Look at prices. They go up, but never come down, even when the prices of raw materials go down.

Oil products are one good example. When the price of crude oil goes up, the salivating oil companies immediately raise their prices beyond the level warranted by the increase in crude price.

But when the price of crude goes down, they delay lowering their pump prices and when they finally do, it is for less than the price corresponding to the drop in crude prices.

* * *

IF we have to make sense of Mr. Estrada’s use of “gravity” as the reason for his falling political stock, we would say that his rating has dropped because of:

  • The gravity of the extent and the manner of influence peddling by some presidential relatives.
  • The gravity of the damage wrought the limping economy by the massive smuggling by presidential cronies.
  • The gravity of the aimlessness with which the ship of state is being steered.
  • The gravity of rising unemployment and dwindling real wages.
  • The gravity of the traffic mess.
  • The gravity of the bullheadedness attending the drive to tamper with the Constitution to suit dubious business agenda.

Grabe na talaga!

* * *

IN the horizon, we again see Bataan Rep. Enrique Garcia galloping with raised lance, stirring a trail of dust in another quixotic attempt to crash through the Supreme Court and bring down the giant windmill of the oil oligopoly.

The congressman is set to file today with the high court a motion for reconsideration of an earlier SC decision throwing out his petition for the striking down of RA 8479 which accelerates the dawning of full deregulation of the local oil industry.

It looks like a lost cause, and we feel weak just thinking about it.

But why should a supposedly sovereign people be helpless in their own country in blocking their exploitation by foreign oil interests whose only known motivation is unbridled profiteering?

And why do we allow our supposed leaders, from the President down to the Supreme Court justices, to our honorable senators and congressmen to sit idly by while we get raped by three profit-crazed oil giants?

* * *

WHEN confronted to explain the obvious acquiescence of Malacañang to the profiteering of the oil cartel, President Estrada waved away the issue with his characteristic lack of concern, pointing out that the Supreme Court had ruled on it and that was it.

We have here the spectacle of the Supreme Court pointing at Congress to remedy the situation, the leaders of Congress conveniently evading the delicate question, and the President feigning helplessness.

All of them, if you will note, ride fleets of gas-guzzling government vehicles whose gasoline is paid for by us taxpayers.

Why should the President of the Republic of the Philippines be helpless if, as he himself admits, the public welfare has been severely damaged by rising prices of oil products? Mr. Estrada himself has pointed to oil price increases as one of the reasons for the drop in his poll rating.

Yet he would not lift a finger? Didn’t he proclaim himself to be the champion of the masses, that he is para sa mahihirap ?

It is obvious that the oil cartel has gotten also to Malacañang as it bulldozes with you-know-what all visible resistance to its consuming desire to dictate prices without regard for public welfare?

Now that our leaders have sold out to the oil cartel and abandoned us to the mercy of the insatiable oil ogre, what are we the people to do?

* * *

SO you survived the Y2K Bug! For you countless users of stand-alone personal computers (PCs) of recent vintage using relatively new software, your coming out unscathed was generally expected.

If you bought your PC from a reputable source in the last two years, it is likely to have a Y2K-compliant BIOS, that short program in your motherboard controlling your internal clock/calendar. Computers made before 1996 are of doubtful status.

But even if your hardware is okay, that’s only part of it. You might still have old software using the two-digit 00 designation of the years. It’s time you updated or changed to new software or programs written to function in the new millenium.

Spreadsheet or database programs, including Lotus and Excel, are among the more popular software that are date-sensitive.

If you want to feel a little better about your Y2K-readiness, go to Start/ Settings/ Control Panel/ Date-Time… and tinker with the year button. Click up the year to 2001 and beyond, and see how far into the new millennium your computer can go.

* * *

WE would like to add these administrative details for a fresh computing start in a fresh new year:

Clean up your files and transfer misfiled documents to the right folders. Go deep into your folders and delete files that you think are useless, outdated or redundant. Purge your email boxes.

While you’re at it, also consider uninstalling software, especially older ones, that you no longer use. You thus create more working space in your hard disk and help improve the performance of your machine.

Pursue deleted files and programs to the Recycle Bin, and the Trash box in the case of email, and erase them with finality. Be merciless. Don’t try reading those files again, otherwise you will waver in your resolve to clean house.

With what’s left of your files, immediately back up the more important ones. With or without the Y2K Bug, prudence really dictates that you do a backup immediately. Don’t postpone doing it. If you need an excuse, well, it’s a new year.

Use only a clean, unused backup tape since some old items in the tape might be infected either with a virus or the Y2K Bug and it would be disaster to mix your important files with them!

* * *

FINALLY, you might want to adopt a New Year resolution that henceforth you will not open attachments and executable files incoming with your email without prior clearance. Don’t let curiosity get the better of you and prod you into peeping into those suspicious files.

We presume to speak for everybody by making a general appeal to all adult users to stop sending and receiving electronic greeting cards. They are not cute. They just clutter cyberspace and our hard disks.

Of course the big exception to this ban are the kids, who love drawings, colorful graphics, onscreen gimmicks — and who must be allowed to send and receive those cards and their variations whatever we their elders think.

What about Erap jokes being forwarded all over the place? Well, bayaan na ninyo. Lilipas din yan!

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 4, 2000)

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