POSTSCRIPT / January 13, 2000 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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The yoyo says: Concord  still alive, OilEx hangs!

CONCORD is still alive! President Estrada himself said so on radio yesterday. Responding to questions of Korina Sanchez and Ted Failon on station DZMM, Mr. Estrada clarified that:

l He has not totally discarded his plan to “correct” the Constitution to make the country more hospitable to foreign investors.

l He just wants Congress to concentrate first on high priority bills and to tackle Concord (Constitutional Correction for Development) later.

l Meantime, he wants an information campaign on Concord so the people would understand what he wants to happen through constitutional amendments.

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WE have bad news for Rep. Enrique T. Garcia, the President’s party mate from Bataan who is pushing the establishment of a national oil exchange (OilEx) to force down the price of oil products with the help, he thinks, of his President.

In the same radio interview, the President denied having promised to certify the urgency of Garcia’s HB 8710 seeking to create the OilEx. The agency would directly buy gasoline, diesel, kerosene and other finished oil products from the lowest bidders worldwide.

The President claimed that he only promised to study the bill, especially its possible effects on existing laws and policies involving foreign investments and the deregulation of the oil industry.

Is he saying that Garcia lied when he said that the President promised to certify the bill? With this turnaround of his president and his recent setback in the Supreme Court, what will Don Quijo Tet Garcia do now?

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WITH his confused and confusing urong-sulong pronouncements, it seems that President Estrada is dancing Concord to the steps of cha-cha or the samba. Will somebody please flag him down and ask him to try walking a straight line?

This is the same ficklemindedness, the same indecisiveness that former President Ramos likened to the yoyo.

This is one of the reasons cited (7 percent) by Postscript readers in our recent poll on 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?”

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ON another burning issue, Postscript takes a tentative stand favoring the assignment of marines to patrol high-density areas in Metro Manila together with regular policemen. Tentative, because we want to see preliminary results.

If this heightened visibility of police officers will improve the peace and order situation in the neighborhood, we are ready to gloss over the gray legal objections thrown by critics of the move.

Seeing a major newspaper criticizing the marines’ deployment, some senators and congressmen promptly issued press releases echoing the objections. The same lawmakers must have forgotten in the glare of publicity that they are themselves being secured by marine contingents.

Marines are good enough for senators and congressmen, but not for the common tao ?

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OUR only serious lament on the marines’ deployment was the utter failure of the armed forces and the national police top brass to consult local executives in Metro Manila before marching in.

What’s wrong with first asking, kahit kunwari lang, the opinion or by-your-leave of the mayors who after all are responsible for their constituents? We hope power is not getting into the heads of some military and police bigwigs.

It bears repeating: The military is subordinate to civilian authority. Mayors are elected by the people, while police officers are not. Mayors have a mandate and an accountability that the military and the police do not have.

We hope PNP Chief Ping Lacson, whose appointment we have hailed, is not beginning to think he is above the civilian leadership. It might help to remind ourselves that the military and the police cannot operate outside of or at cross-purposes with the civilian community.

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AND now, we start to run excerpts from remarks of respondents to the recent Postscript survey on the waning popularity of President Estrada.

To recall, the top three reasons given for the drop in Mr. Estrada’s poll rating were: Erap not ready for the presidency/ mismanagement/ incompetence, 18 percent of responses; cronyism/influence-peddling by relatives, 15 percent; unfair criticisms by media, 11 percent.

Other reasons given in descending order of frequency: Insistence on Concord, 10 percent; broken presidential promises, 8; bungling Cabinet men, advisers, barkada, 7; urong-sulong, fickle-mindedness, yoyo decisions, 7; graft and corruption, 6; Church attacks on Erap, 4; and attacks from the Left and Right (including opposition and former officials), 4 percent. These responses add up to only 90 percent, because we left out the other responses after the top 10 reasons.

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SAMPLING of responses:

Art Alipio, 33, Angono, Rizal: Erap talks too much, even about the most trivial things. He trades barbs with almost everybody it comes to a point that it becomes so unpresidential. Also, he keeps on promising things, heightening the people’s expectation that results in great dissatisfaction if not delivered. The masses are impatient and hungry.

Jimmy F. P. Perez, 48, 20 Cityview St., Pasig City: We have a highly immoral presidency. The voters had accepted Erap as a philandering candidate. What is wrong now is that as president, he should have paraded only his First Family. We have (GG) daily in the newspapers. We have (LE) doing her things. We have his other children saying this and doing that. He says “walang kamag-anak, walang kaibigan,” but who is cornering the low-cost housing projects, (LE). He is against smuggling, but who are now lording it over in the operations of duty free shops, his friend and campaign funder (LC). He says housing is a major thrust, but look at how Palma-Gil of Pag-ibig is screwing the housing projects of Gov. Joey Lina of Laguna.

Ranonu, 34, using an aol address, New Jersey, US: While Erap’s then popularity catapulted him to the highest post, his now notoriety is pulling him down to the basement. Gravity has nothing to do with this, he is simply not fit for the job. His quick-to-draw attitude, pa-macho style responses, one-liners, “huwag nyong subukan” rhetorics, are simply disturbing. He’s a fine actor yeah, but the presidency is more than an acting job.

Mon Punsalang, 205 Venice St., BF Homes: (1) Pang-mayor lang talaga , (2) poor taste in friends and cronies, and (3) comical at first but now a tragedy in the making for the Philippines.

William Maranan, 46, Tondo: The parents, or I must say, (LE) and chosen political allies have forcibly taken over several major contracts from reliable and respected contract holders (some from retired San Miguel employees), such as delivery and warehousing contracts of the some SMC sales offices.

Joey Legarda, 44, 6057-C Palma St., Makati: What is really frightening about Erap is that he simply does not have a clue who and what the problem is. He will continue to blame all his critics and the world. He alone has a high regard for himself.

Jeffrey U. Ko, 87 Banal St., Caloocan City: (1) Ignorance, (2) Impatience, and (3) Foolishness. What do people expect of our President? He’s not a miracle worker! He’s not God! Why can’t just everybody learn to wait and support him. With so many problems he inherited from our past two presidents, I don’t think there’s really much he can do in so short a time. Let’s judge him from the results of his works.

Ma Carmen A. Baltazar (Cai) using a lucent address: Three reasons for the drop? It’s actually just one reason and a very simple one: He was never qualified to be president in the first place.

Rewader using a hotmail address: The drop in Erap’s net approval boils down to the fact that he is not fit, and has never been qualified, to be president of the country. He did the Philippines a disservice by running for and winning the presidency (due to his popularity as a movie star). God help the Philippines. That’s all that we can do now: Pray that we be spared from further misrule by Erap.

Prof. Pedro B. Bernaldez, Ph. D. in Political Science, Kyung Hee University, South Korea: Three reasons for drop in Erap’s approval rating: No. 1, Erap; No. 2, Erap; and No. 3, Erap.

Erick using sprint address, Filipino CGA student, Canada: Asking that question is like asking “why monkey does not know how to drive a car?” or “why does a kindergarten fails to pass the board exam?” His inevitable crashing and burning is just a matter of time and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist nor become a Nostradamus to predict his gradual disintegration.

Manuel Aquino, 23, of 129 Palina East Urdaneta City, Pangasinan: Prices of commodities still going high! People getting tired and hungry of what he always says. It’s time for him not just to talk the talk. He should walk the walk. Maybe FVR is right with what he describes as Erap’s government — yoyo!

S. Ong using hotmail address:The plunge in ratings is deliberate just like in the movies where the bidagets whipped in the beginning (however, unlike in the movies, the bida will turn out to be contrabida this time unless he changes his attitude or resign). He or his men forgot to set aside funds for the pollsters.

Mian Sta. Cruz, 23, Meycauayan, Bulacan: It feels like we don’t have a president right now. He hasn’t done one serious decision that wasn’t influenced by people around him. He is like a toy that cannot function without batteries.

More responses next time.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 13, 2000)

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