POSTSCRIPT / October 10, 2000 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Perception, not evidence, to determine Erap’s guilt

IT is not the courts, nor the Senate, much less the politicians and propagandists, who will clear or convict Erap Estrada of charges that he has been receiving dirty millions in jueteng payola.

Neither should it be Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, the spurned Ilocano gambling lord, who would tell us if Erap is guilty.

Erap will not be judged by them, but by the people. And in rendering judgment, the people will not rely much on evidence, but on perception.

If the public thinks that on its face the accusation is true, there is nothing that an army of lawyers and apologists can do. Once the people acting as jury render a verdict, legal niceties and press releases won’t be able to help Erap much.

* * *

“PATAY kung patay! (If I have to die, so be it!)” said Governor Singson as he faced the overflow crowd at the Club Filipino that waited for his revelations on alleged jueteng payola involving Erap.

Indeed, when Singson amplified on his expose after spurning efforts of mediators to fix things with Malacañang, he placed his neck on the line. He was taking a big risk targeting the most powerful man in the country.

The question has been raised: Why would he concoct stories about Erap and make false accusations knowing that that could mean his life?

* * *

THE appearance of Gen. Roberto Lastimoso, former PNP chief, at the Singson presscon gave a psychological boost to the governor’s story. The general told the crowd that early on in his stint as PNP chief, Erap told him to go easy on jueteng and just coordinate with Singson in the Ilocos.

Lastimoso has not presented any evidence that such an order was indeed given by the President. He just said that it was an oral instruction to him.

But as we said, in the game of perception, incontrovertible evidence is not the determining factor.

* * *

ANOTHER tactic being used by Malacañang to blunt Singson’s accusations is to divert public attention away from Erap. They have started to unload dossiers on the Ilocano governor and harass him with various charges.

The President’s lawyers are building a case against Singson on his alleged mishandling of funds meant for tobacco farmers in Ilocandia. Expect them to hammer on this to put him on the defensive.

But even granting that Singson is dragged to court on malversation and other charges, that does not diminish the validity of his making payola charges and the urgency of having the President explain his side.

* * *

IN suspending Bingo 2-Ball the other day and ordering a review of the contract covering it, Erap said he wanted to “ensure that the interests of the government are fully addressed and protected.”

What he presumably meant was that the government should not be short-changed in the jueteng deal of Pagcor.

We’re disturbed by the President’s skewed priorities. The detail over the government’s possibly losing some gambling proceeds is not as important as making sure the people are protected from the pernicious effects of the culture of gambling that he and his cohorts have inflicted on the population.

* * *

WE pray that Erap finds his right bearings without delay, and without further damage to the nation. Imagine gambling being a centerpiece of his administration! If he really can’t think of something else, cannot his bright boys think for him? Mababaw ang dating ng Pangulo.

When he and his gambling expert Atong Ang cooked up their version of the illegal game of jueteng, they appended the word “Bingo” to its name to justify its being under Pagcor. But Pagcor is no laundry shop that can turn stinking rags sparkling clean.

When the searing light of day exposed the Bingo 2-Ball hatched in the dark, the money-making racket was shown to be shot through with holes. Now they are frantically doing damage control.

* * *

WHEN Press Undersecretary Mike Toledo tried explaining the Malacañang order suspending Bingo 2-Ball, he said that what the President did was “part of an overall campaign to eradicate our society of illegal gambling.”

But Bingo 2-Ball is nothing but jueteng in all aspects, except that Erap and his crony Atong Ang rewrote the sharing scheme of the gambling proceeds.

If it is true that Erap wants to rid this country of gambling, he should permanently dismantle Bingo 2-Ball – as well as its older brother the full-blown Bingo franchised to another presidential crony Dante Tan.

* * *

INFOTECH: What’s the best medium for the average computer user to backup the contents of his hard disk that has seen long service and might just collapse any time?

Ado Hinayon of asiagate said: “Buy a new hard drive make make it master, the old one as a slave. Don’t buy a zip drive, buy a CDRW, its better. CDRW disk is cheaper and when you travel it can be read by any CD-ROM, unlike a zip backup tape which will run only on a zip drive.”

Most other readers who sent their 1-kilobyte worth of opinion, also favored the CDRW which turns out discs that are generally more reliable than zip tapes. But many users said they were deterred by the CDRW’s higher initial cost.

* * *

ED Yap of graphic-designer explained: “In the history of computers, the more popular technology was not always the better technology. There was MS-DOS, then Windows 3.0, then Windows 98. In storage for the masses, there’s zip. These four technologies are excellent case studies to prove that better marketing can beat better technology any time.

“Magnetic drives such as zip read and write data on magnetic film. This Winchester-type of storage medium is faster than other popular (and not-so-popular) media, but not as stable.

“For transferring data between computers or bringing files to service bureaus, zip disks are great and practically universal. But for long-term storage (such as data backup), they don’t offer protection against magnetic fields, dust, and shock (as from a hard drop).

“For long-term storage, current options boil down to either magneto-optical (MO) or CD rewritable (CDRW). MOs and CDs adhere to ISO specifications, and are therefore readable in any brand of MO drive or CD-ROM drive. Not so with zips, which follow a proprietary technology like LS-120 Superdisks.

“MO media offer substantial protection against dust, magnetic fields, shock, and airport security devices. Same with CDs. MOs are created using a high-power laser in combination with magnetic pulses to change the polarity (molecular orientation) of a disk’s recording layer.

“CDRW drives are three to five times more expensive than zip drives, but this imbalance is tilted in favor of CD burners the very first time you need to back up a 2-gigabyte disk (P8,600 worth of zips versus P260 worth of CD blanks.)”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 10, 2000)

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