POSTSCRIPT / March 26, 2000 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Laquian, a Canadian, divulges state secrets!

DON’T look now, but wasn’t erstwhile Malacañang insider Prod Laquian actually divulging state secrets when he prattled on in the last MOPC forum?

The wonder of it all is that more than a week after Laquian’s disclosures, President Estrada has not denied the exposé on the existence of that midnight Cabinet cluster reportedly making important decisions amid, huh, spirited discussions.

The President merely clarified that he has shifted from his old favorite Johnny Walker Blue to red wine, brand and vintage unspecified.

Excuse me while I ask my bartender which potion serves public interests better: whisky or wine.

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BUT while he regaled the town with his account of those post-midnight sessions, the loquacious Laquian failed to inform the nation on time that while he was functioning as the presidential Chief of Staff, he was technically still an alien.

It was only last Friday when he was about to board the plane for his homecoming to Canada that he revealed that other secret: All throughout his stint in the Palace pit rubbing scales with snakes and such, he was still a Canadian.

While he had applied for the cancellation of his acquired Canadian citizenship, the stripping process takes some time. Therefore, the President’s man was a Canadian with a passport in his hip pocket for a quick getaway just in case.

(That getaway bit is hyperbole, although not being said here in jest.)

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IN the case of former Chairman Perfecto Yasay of the Securities and Exchange Commission, his packing up last Friday was not a getaway, but a case of the President getting rid of him.

Yasay’s departure leaves his replacement Lilia Bautista in a bind. We think she has no choice now but to proceed with the filing of the cases against presidential crony Dante Tan for alleged manipulative transactions in the stock exchange.

If she does not file the complaints for any reason, she would be accused, justly or unjustly, of covering up.

Her filing of the complaint, after the Court of Appeals side skirmish is threshed out, is a sort of forced move.

* * *

THE guessing game now is how far the President will go to protect his friends and financiers.

There is already talk of alleged Malacañang pressure upon the Court of Appeals that had resulted in a controversial CA order restraining the SEC from filing the complaints again Tan et al. before Yasay’s exit last Friday.

The widespread presumption is that there will also be pressure upon the Department of Justice, an office under the President, to fail to find probable cause to file the charges after the usual investigation.

The problem is that the justice department will find it difficult explaining its act if it does not file the case. Another forced move?

* * *

MY barber says that if he were president, he would cut the TRO war and the rest of the bull shit so the cases against Tan et al. can be filed immediately and decided by the court without delay.

His reason: delaying the process or, worse, preventing the filing of the charges will just leave a negative net effect on the stock market, the economy in general and the political rating of President Estrada.

Maawa naman kayo sa bayan, my barber cries.

We don’t know Mr. Estrada’s barber, but we think he should confer with mine.

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SHOWING up at the kapihan at Annabel’s in Quezon City last Thursday, Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz Araneta has given us some folders listing her department’s accomplishments.

“Why are you nasty?” she demanded of this columnist. Now, how do you answer a question like that, especially if it’s Gemma asking it across the table?

POSTSCRIPT readers would know that she was reacting to comments in this space about the tourism department’s falling on the job of developing and promoting the country as a tourist destination.

Aside from the statistical data that the country recorded 2.2 million tourist arrivals in 1999 and earned P99.82 billion in tourism-related revenue, we print below some information from her January-February 2000 accomplishment report.

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ARANETA reports that the DoT has been carrying out the “Rediscovery” tourism program of the administration, describing it as “an effective market strategy to promote the Philippines in the international arena” and “designed to arouse a pride of place in each Filipino and implement community-based and sustainable tourism projects.”

“A Filipino who is proud of the country is the best tourism front liner,” she says.

Araneta says that the DoT sustained exposure in the international media at minimum or no cost to the administration through her “creative financing” scheme, referring to the department’s bringing in of foreign travel writers and TV crews with the help of airlines and the industry.

She listed foreign magazines that had featured Philippine destinations:Traveller (Conde Nast), Frequent Traveller, Philippine Time USA, Elf Aquitane followup publicity (“Secret of Samar”), and Details.

Foreign TV shows that promoted the Philippines: BBC Holiday Travel Show (promotional value reportedly $1.5 million), Reizelust-ZDF GermanTV, Trailblazer on Discovery Channel, London-based Blind Date show (media value estimated at $580,000), BBC-State of the Planet, and E! Entertainment.

She said the DoT participated in these international tourism conferences: ASEAN Tourism Forum held in January in Bangkok, where the tourism secretary talked on the “Rediscovery” program and had interviews with travel trade publications.

Araneta was also guest of honor last Feb. 17 at the Philippine-Korean Travel Exchange & Friendship Golf tournament awarding. The next day was held the Singapore Airlines presentation of the Philippine promotional program.

She also listed working meetings with the Balikbayani and Discover Your Roots task force and other meetings for the making of posters and promotional materials.

* * *

UNDER domestic Tourism, Araneta listed various projects: support for traditional festivals, President Estrada’s Tourism Highway, entrepreneurial development for rural tourism, financial support for tourism-related projects of local governments, giving information and interviews to media.

Under what she called “sustainable tourism development,” Araneta listed: formulation of a national ecotourism strategy, ecotourism technical workshops, the PATA Ecotourism Congress, Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces plan, scientific rehabilitation of the landscape from the NAIA to the mouth of the Pasig, rehabilitation of the Metropolitan Theatre, and reconstruction work at Intramuros.

The DoT endorsed five tourism projects to the Board of Investments involving P104.39 million for hotels and P8.1 million for resorts.

The department gave a Taiwanese investment mission a tour of possible sites and gave it information on tourism investments and incentives. There was also a presentation to a representative of Club Med.

* * *

COMPUTER NOTES: We have received queries on the new sizzling AMD processors that some technical reports said had outstripped Pentium in the speed race. One reader asked in particular which is better: AMD or Intel’s Celeron?

That is a technical topic we are not competent to answer. But still we give our opinion as an ordinary user.

Between the new AMD K-7 processors and the latest Intel Celerons, we will take the AMD anytime. But if the choice is between the older AMD K-6 and the latest Celerons, I will pick the Celerons.

Intel first produced cheap Celerons because its Pentiums were too expensive for a big sector of the market. To make the Celeron cheaper, they removed its cache, a sort of buffer memory. This slowed down the Celeron, which had to depend on the motherboard’s own cache.

As a compromise later, Intel put in a little cache, but that did not make the Celeron fast enough for very demanding users. However, for ordinary users, especially those looking for bargains, the Celeron is good enough.

* * *

AMD has bounced back from its thrashing in the hands of Intel’s Pentium II and III, storming the market with its AMD K-7 series with the Olympic-sounding name Athlon. In actual tests, the K-7 Athlons beat the Pentium IIIs and are now preferred by many assemblers.

One thing going for Intel and Pentium is their pervasive promotional image. The Intel symbol has come to mean power and reliability. AMD has to work overtime in this perception war.

The same advertising and promotions expenses of Intel had been built into its prices, making its Pentiums more expensive than their counterpart AMDs.

This pricing element may be favorable to AMD, but there are some buyers who blindly believe that what is more expensive must be better.

While AMDs had beaten Pentiums in the speed game, their being slightly cheaper is now working in their favor. Many assemblers are shifting to AMD to bring down prices without sacrificing quality.

* * *

BUT changing one’s Pentium for an AMD processor is not that simple since they are not interchangeable. You don’t just pull out the Pentium and stick in the AMD. The AMD uses a different kind of motherboard, the Socket 7 type, while Pentiums use Slot One.

So, a prior decision has to be made. If you want an AMD K-7, you have to have the appropriate motherboard from the start. The AMD can be fitted with a riser that looks like the Pentium riser, but Intel anticipated that and patented their (Intel) pin arrangements so AMD cannot copy or use them.

Another note: If you want to assemble your own power computer, consider using components that are rated at 133 mhz or better. The 100 mhz market for motherboards and memory (RAM) is being overtaken by the 133 mhz releases.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 26, 2000)

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