POSTSCRIPT / November 23, 2000 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Now, Erap and cronies to face raps on Mimosa

WITH the filing of impeachment charges against President Estrada and his seemingly losing his grip on things, there is not only a scramble to abandon the ship but also the disclosure of more alleged money-making scandals involving him and presidential cronies.

Charges are soon to be filed, according to a lawyer of former Aquino Cabinet member Antonio Gonzales, pertaining to alleged attempt of presidential cronies to grab hefty shares in the Mimosa leisure estate on Clark Field without paying for them, some of them in the name of the President.

The lawyer of Gonzales was all over radio yesterday spilling details of alleged maneuvering of cronies he identified as Mark Jimenez, Dante Tan, Atong Ang and Roberto Aventajado, who he said were asking for some shares to help Mimosa get out of its crippling money problem.

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IN a related development, Ilocos Rep. Imee R. Marcos and Leyte Rep. Alfred Romualdez announced their getting out of the Lapian ng Masang Pilipino (LAMP) coalition. The cousins did not just go on leave, but bolted the coalition in exasperation.

The Marcos-Romualdez clan and their followers apparently resent the repeated unsavory reference of President Estrada to the former President Marcos whenever denying reports that he was planning to impose martial rule as a way out of his problems.

We won’t be surprised if there were actually other issues and incidents that had soured their relations with the President. By coincidence, Mr. Estrada is becoming less and less able to deliver on his promises to the Marcoses and other friends.

We see as backdrop of the overall political picture the decay and the stink of the foundering Estrada administration.

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SENATORS Tessie Aquino-Oreta and Gringo Honasan, for their part, have announced their going on leave from LAMP to make people believe that they would not be influenced by partisan considerations when they vote in the impeachment trial of the President.

Such a half-hearted move will not make them any more credible. Instead of pretending to be out of the coalition through the convenience of going on leave, but having one foot still inside, they should resign outright.

If Oreta and Honasan want to salvage their sagging credibility, they should dump their party completely instead of just going on leave. Cut clean.

* * *

ORETA, as it is with Sen. John Osmeña, has a special problem arising from her having received P1 million in balato from jueteng payola. She is already tainted, jueteng payola being one of the key issues in the impeachment trial.

By that unfortunate indiscretion of receiving the money from confessed Estrada tong collector Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, Oreta had pre-disqualified herself from credibly hearing charges pertaining to jueteng.

Worse, Oreta also made herself vulnerable to charges despite her having returned the money. Somebody is liable to file charges soon anyway and she might be thrown out as an impeachment juror.

In other cultures, this favorite sister of Ninoy Aquino would simply inhibit herself from sitting as judge in the impeachment trial and staying low-key. Inhibition could forestall the criminal charges.

To impress the public further, she and her businessman husband could also give up juicy contracts given them by the Estrada administration as the fruit of their close association with the President.

* * *

THE going-on-leave of Oreta and Honasan at this late date does not compare with the cutting clean of Senate Majority Leader Francisco S. Tatad, who bolted the administration coalition even before the trial got under way last Monday.

Timing is also important for President Estrada in case he is still keeping a resignation card up his sleeve. If Mr. Estrada is to resign anyway because of the pressure and the preponderance of evidence against him, he should do it before the presentation of evidence starts.

On the question of resigning, Mr. Estrada should listen more to his conscience and his family than to his lawyers. The attorneys cannot be expected to just let go the golden goose by allowing their confused client to give up this early. Expect them to advise him to fight on, assuring him of acquittal.

* * *

THERE’S a danger that by the din of his own propaganda, President Estrada may have started to believe his spiel that impeachment is the only constitutional option open to him. Sir, it is not!

His children and his real wife should try discussing with him other options, including resignation and retirement with honor. The President should consider going on a retreat, being alone — without his lawyers, mistresses, cronies and the hangers-on who have led him to this crisis.

With so many things swirling around him, the President may not realize it now, but there is life after impeachment. In fact, there is not only life, but possible peace and fulfillment.

* * *

BACK to the Palace “God Save the King” action plan that former President Ramos passed on to media last Monday, former official Billy Esposo said in an email that the plan confirms the expose of Chavit Singson that Malacañang liaison officer Jimmy Policarpio has been handing out payola to some media people.

Esposo noted Item 2e of the Palace plan stating: “The normal kitties that the OPS (Office of the Press Secretary) and the Senate liaison spend on our media supporters need to be increased since this is a crisis period.…”

He added that the plan confirmed the Palace’s retaining a network of commentators, deskmen, and reporters, using the government-run media — Channels 4, 9 and 13, Radyo ng Bayan, People’s Journal/Tonite — to run government crisis propaganda and to intentionally downplay the impact of negative developments.

* * *

ON phone radio surveys, Esposo noted that the OPS operates a telephone brigade to disinform and misinform. No wonder, he said, there are talk show polls that seem to reflect an abnormally high pro-Palace number when telephones are not easily accessible to Estrada class E followers. The phones are with upper class households, he said.

He pointed out that the Palace has a friendly survey group to always bail it out. This explains why recent surveys being flaunted by Malacañang are showing numbers that do not jibe with the trend in previous surveys, he added.

From the same plan, Esposo said, “we see that Bro. Mike Velarde is like a sanitizing tool that the Palace can utilize at will.” Item 2a of the plan states “The President will arrange a meeting with Bro. Mike Velarde and Bro. Mike will announce that the President has regretted his mistakes and wants to correct the wrong he has made.”

* * *

CATCHING the pre-Christmas shopping crowd, Intel launched locally the other day its Pentium 4 processor for high-performance desktop computers.

It comes initially in two clock speeds, 1.5 and 1.4 GHz, which might seem dizzying to those still using Pentium 2 and Pentium III in the 400 to 600 MHz range. Pentium 4 has a 400 MHz system bus, compared to the 133 MHz of Pentium III and the 100 MHz of Pentium 2.

Ricky Banaag, country manager of Intel Microelectronics Phils., said: “The Pentium 4 processor gives users performance where they can appreciate it most, whether streaming content, playing interactive games, encoding video and MP3 files, or creating Internet content.”

* * *

BUNDLED with 128 mb of memory (RDRAM) and a fan heat sink, the Pentium 4 is sold for $1,050 for the 1.4 GHz and $1,250 for the 1.5 GHz type. Compare with Pentium III’s $550 for 1.0 GHz, and $160 for 600 MHz. (Pentium III prices also include the fan heat sink.)

Pentium 4 will not fit into the old motherboards. Banaag said Intel has a new Desktop Board D850GB, selling for $290, to take the Pentium 4. The new board’s design has abandoned the Slot One and has gone back to a socket type of receptacle for the Pentium 4.

The first user of Pentium 4 in the country is Ms. Matt Buelva of Computerworld, who won a 1.4-GHz complete system in the raffle for the media during the processor’s launching the other night in Makati. The package costs more than P100,000. The demo was impressive.

* * *

ERRATUM: We’re sorry for that stray letter that had reversed the sense of one paragraph in our previous column. The “t” in the word “not” came out “w” in this line from Tatad’s statement on his bolting LAMP:

“We must now (NOT) allow the most venal and wicked individuals who have remained unpunished for their past crimes to return to the scene by posturing on the side of goodness and parroting the political line of the day just to hide their opportunism, their hypocrisy, their corruption, their crimes.”

The computer’s spellcheck failed to detected the error, because “now” was correctly spelled. As for the proofreaders, since it was a direct quote, they must have assumed that the speaker knew what he was talking about, now knowing he was being misquoted.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 23, 2000)

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