POSTSCRIPT / October 12, 2000 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A silent Erap is losing jueteng war by default

WHY is Asyong Salonga (or “AS,” the code name of President Estrada in alleged jueteng ledgers) allowing Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson to dominate the jueteng show that may just drag on for one full season?

No wonder, most people following the Singson disclosures at Club Filipino, the Senate and other forums tended to believe the self-confessed jueteng payola collector that he regularly delivered to “AS” millions in fortnightly jueteng collections.

Until yesterday at the Senate, Singson had the upper hand in the propaganda war. With public opinion going against him, the President will find it difficult erasing the perception that Singson is generally telling the truth.

* * *

WHEN asked who between the governor and the president I think is telling the truth, my standard answer to pollsters is that I have to suspend judgment since we have not heard the whole story.

The lopsided picture is partly traceable to President Estrada’s failure to give his side. Some lawyers are saying tuloy that his silence or his inability to refute the accusations is an indication of probable guilt.

At the rate Singson is piling up revelations and pulling away in the perception game, Erap Estrada may have a hard time salvaging whatever is left of his face.

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TWO senators, Tessie Oreta and Sonny Osmeña, unwittingly gave credence to the ledgers that Singson presented to the Senate to show how millions flowed to Malacañang and other personalities identified with the President.

The ledgers showed that P1 million each was handed to Oreta and Osmeña by Singson, although the governor said the money did not come from jueteng but was just a “balato” from the President advanced by Singson.

By paying back the hefty “balato,” the senators validated the entry in Singson’s ledgers showing that money was given to them.

* * *

SEN. Nene Pimentel, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon committee conducting a hearing together with another committee, surprised us by ruling that the P2 million being paid back by Oreta and Osmeña was to be seized in favor of the government.

Pimentel ruled that it was “tainted” money and was not to go back to Singson but to the government. The senator appears to have prejudged the money as having come from jueteng, an illegal game, despite Singson’s assertion that it did not.

Just because the money came from Erap Estrada and passed the hands of Singson did not make it “tainted.”

* * *

MUCH has been said about Singson’s being a “polluted source” considering his colorful life story, including his being allegedly a political kingpin in Ilocandia, a gambler and drinking buddy of Erap Estrada.

Granting he is all that, it does not follow that he is not telling the truth about Erap receiving millions in jueteng payola. We’re not saying either that he is telling the whole truth.

It is also said that he started singing after he fell from presidential favor and his rival Atong Ang gave, over his objection, the Bingo 2-Ball franchise in Singson’s turf to the governor’s own political foe.

Again granting such a dark motivation, the seething anger that prodded him to make the expose will not change the merit, if any, of his disclosures.

* * *

LOOKING closely at Singson’s story and the side plots popping up on both sides of the fence, we see what to us look like morsels of truth in his narration.

Singson’s narration is prejudiced. Of course. His narration is slanted to put him in good light and his enemies in bad.

Still, as we said, if you listen more carefully to Singson and examine the papers he has been waving, you would see disparate elements of his testimony and details of the documents falling into place. Some details may be doubted, but his story cannot be dismissed as pure fabrication.

President Estrada, not his apologists, has to answer the accusation. The people are waiting for his reply.

* * *

SHOULD President Estrada resign? At this point, we still do not see any compelling reason for him to quit.

Should he then be impeached? Forget it.

But if the jueteng scandal continues to gather momentum, if a wounded President is unable to recover, and if cronyism, corruption and incompetence keep pushing the country nearer the cliff, the President may find it his patriotic duty to resign and spare his people.

He should stop listening to his lawyers who keep telling him that Singson’s accusations cannot stand in court. Sir, this is not a court case.

* * *

INFOTECH: On the question of which is better, a zip drive, an extra hard drive, or a CDRW for backing up a harddisk threatening to conk out, reader Erwin G. Olario of myrealbox shares his experience with these media.

He said: “I agree that CDRs/CDRWs are the best backup medium available now. Not only are they durable and reliable, they can withstand less than tender care compared with magnetic media like diskettes and zips.

“For backup, the CDRW medium is the best, but for archiving it’s best to use CDRs. Current CDRWs are capable of rewriting data 800 to 1000 times, while CDRs can only do multi-session writes.

“The future of portable storage media is in the Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) format. Despite the present high cost of DVD-RAM drives (the DVD equivalent of a CDRW) of about $ 5,000, the competing technologies (MOs,DVD-r+w, DVD-ROM) and the high cost of the disc itself, it features the same handling characteristics of CDs and a DVD can theoretically hold up to 17 gigabytes of data which is about 26 CDs!

“If you only wish to occasionally backup your hard disk, buying your own burner is an expensive option. But there are shops that do backup and archiving services to CDRs or CDRWs for reasonable fees.

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ON an earlier suggestion of another reader that a user can buy a new hard drive, make it master and the old one a slave for backup, Olario said: “I won’t recommend making your ‘old’ and ‘might just collapse’ drive as your slave. You’re not sure that your data will be stored properly or retrieved at all.

“Drives that may soon fail exhibit these symptoms that will warn you that it’s going to retire soon: increased number of bad sectors, clicking noises (this one is bad, you better back-up ASAP), unreadable sectors or files that you can’t retrieve or run.

“I have seen drives as old as seven years that still work perfectly. Just be aware of the symptoms of an impending drive failure and save yourself from hassles and headaches of lost data.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 12, 2000)

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