POSTSCRIPT / October 8, 2000 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Jueteng sets the moral level of Erap leadership

TAMA na iyang jueteng at Bingo 2-Ball! Alam naman natin lahat na pahirap lang sa mahihirap iyan, at pagpapayaman sa iilan!

Nobody has improved the quality of his life or grown rich with jueteng — except the gambling lords and their protectors in government.

And as sure as the sun’s setting at the end of this day, it’s going to be the same story with Erap Estrada’s Bingo 2-Ball.

This new racket is just jueteng in disguise, the only difference being that Erap has inserted his runner into the multi-billion-peso enterprise funneling money from the masses to the same gambling lords and their padrinos.

That’s why there is this raging battle royal between a self-confessed jueteng lord displaced by Bingo 2-Ball and a self-styled gambling expert advising Erap on how to cash in on gambling without placing a bet.

* * *

THE whole world knows that Erap Estrada needs millions almost daily to maintain his accustomed lifestyle. But still, not all of us can understand why despite his bulging billions he still insists on squeezing blood from the masses by giving them Bingo 2-Ball.

Bingo 2-Ball is Erap’s shameless version of jueteng, the same illegal, immoral, addictive, exploitive game that robs the poor of money that should go to the feeding, clothing and schooling of their children.

Erap claims to love the poor. Why then is he bleeding them, corrupting them with jueteng and Bingo 2-Ball? If he needs more millions, why doesn’t Erap tap instead his wealthy cronies who have been cornering juicy deals in his administration?

* * *

HAVING Pagcor front for Bingo 2-Ball will not transform its dirty black to lily white. Poor Pagcor chairman Alice Reyes is just being used. She should resign in protest, but if she did, the vultures waiting in the wings would take over.

The justification for Bingo 2-Ball is that since the Erap administration is unable (actually unwilling) to hound jueteng to extinction, the government might as well join it and cash in on the millions in bets collected daily from the masses.

To those obsessed with money, this makes sense. Oo nga naman, why stop jueteng and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs?

* * *

ANOTHER justification is that the government earns ample revenue from Bingo 2-Ball. It does?

That’s a lie. Only the loose change goes to the government. From gross collections, only 5 percent goes to the Bureau of Internal Revenue as tax. Why is the BIR gently asking for 5 percent from gamblers, but extorting double or 10 percent from us wage earners?

The distribution of the Bingo 2-Ball collection (assuming it is honestly reported) reveals the criminal intent of the mind that designed Pagcor’s jueteng.

After the government gets its measly share of 5 percent in taxes, the rest of the bloody money is given out this way: 5 percent to Pagcor, 6 percent to Erap Estrada (but of course!), 7 percent to Erap’s adviser on gambling, 60 percent to winners (if any), and 17 percent to Erap’s runner (again) and the gambling lords who had been converted to Bingo 2-Ball.

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JUETENG and its twin Bingo 2-Ball are an indicator of the quality of the expertise of Erap’s finance wizards. Gambling also defines the level of the quality of leadership we can expect from Erap.

His fund-raisers are generally a failure in bringing in quality investments, raising the people’s productivity, improving the value and diversity of exports, and managing the economy… but they are experts in all forms of gambling, smuggling and such economic activities marked by a fast return on investment.

No wonder most Filipinos are scrambling to emigrate. If this country were not surrounded by forbidding seas, half of its population would be gone before Erap is halfway through his painfully long term.

* * *

BUT Erap Estrada will not be impeached. Not because the charges of Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson on the President’s appetite for millions in gambling tong are false and not of impeachable nature, but because impeachment is a political game of numbers.

It’s that simple. There are just not enough congressmen in the LAMP-dominated House of Representatives to vote for impeachment regardless of how air-tight are the evidence submitted by Singson.

But impeachment is not really the game being played by Erap’s detractors. The idea is to destroy his credibility to the point where whatever he does or does not do, he would be unable to govern effectively.

In this game, perception is enough to impeach Erap in the public mind.

* * *

ADMITTEDLY, Governor Singson is not coming forward with clean hands as he accuses his erstwhile friend Erap of receiving payola from gambling lords.

But that does not mean that his accusations must be ignored. On the contrary, if they have had an unholy alliance of sorts involving big-time illegal gambling, his dark background only improves his credibility.

The fact that he may have decided to “expose” the presidential payola because he had been left out in the lucrative Bingo 2-Ball, to our mind, is also not a reason to reject outright his allegations.

It is time that this nation forced the cleanup of the higher echelons of government. If we don’t do it now, or if we allow a coverup, shame on us!

* * *

HAVING been exposed too long to the filth in government, it seems we have learned to live with the stench of corruption and immorality in the public service.

No institution has been spared by the corrupting influence of bad government and bad citizenship, so we are all responsible for this sad state of affairs.

If they just bother to reread their oaths of office and the pertinent provisions of the Constitution, many of our officials would be shamed enough to throw in their resignation. If they don’t, and most likely they won’t, we should keep the pressure on them.

The next elections in May 2001 should be an opportunity to follow through on efforts to save this country from its corrupt leadership and its corruptible citizenry.

* * *

BEFORE our Netscape Communicator bogged down yesterday, we received an email from Bob Parker, public information officer at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, complaining of our report on a Fil-American couple harassed by airport police.

Parker said they were investigating the complaints of Dennis and Maxi Olsen of Marysville, Washington, adding that “To this point, we’ve found nothing to support an allegation of brutality. The Olsens have suggested in several ways that they have proof, but they have not presented that material either to our investigator or to local media who are also investigating the case.”

That was belied by the Olsens who countered with a charge that their evidence was being ignored presumably in preparation for a whitewash.

Coverup of previous cases of police harassment and misconduct was also recounted by other readers who claimed to have had similar experiences at the hands of the Seattle airport police.

Our wrongly identifying the victims in the rush of the first report has been explained. That minor detail, however, does not detract from the substance of the horror story that the Olsens are insisting is true. The issue is the complaint itself, not the initial identification error that has been corrected.

* * *

ALSO on traffic police conduct, Ting Samson of Angeles was wondering why we said in a previous Postscript that a driver must have both his hands on the wheel when talking to an arresting officer after pulling over.

There have been many cases in California of highway patrol officers accosting a motorist and being shot by the driver after rolling down his window. Having both your hands on the wheel shows the officer that you are not holding anything deadly.

When you pull over, the highway patrol stops behind your car with its intense light beamed at your rearview mirror to blind you and add to your handicap in case you intend to do something funny. In contrast, policemen in Metro Manila park their jeepney in front of your car so you do not drive away.

Our policemen usually want you to get off your car and walk to them to explain or fix things. Our advice is not to get off. Let the officer come to you. If he does not move from his traffic outpost or his parked jeepney after you have waited, drive off.

* * *

FEEDBACK: With our Netscape temporarily disabled, we are receiving feedback and other email only though FDPascual@journalist.com. Use of our ManilaMail address is suspended in the meantime.

We would appreciate receiving expert advice from readers who have asked for the best procedure for backing up a hard disk that has been in service too long. Specifically, they want to know which is better: A zip drive (internal or external) or another hard drive to catch the backup?

We have also been receiving queries on the new motherboards, processors and RAM modules that run on 133 mhz bus speed. Is it time to shift to 133 mhz? What are the best combinations of motherboards and processors for this?

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 8, 2000)

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