POSTSCRIPT / April 3, 2001 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA: No MILF secession. A sizzling headline, if true!

NOW they are telling us that public relations man Bubby Dacer was strangled and his body burned.

More than two months ago, a friend who has a son in a school in San Juan told us a casual story which now comes back to us as an eerie preview of the new Dacer story unfolding before us.

My friend’s son is a classmate of a son of a Chinoy occasionally mentioned in follow up stories on Dacer.

Long before the NBI came up with this account of Dacer having been burned, the Chinoy’s son had been telling his classmate that the missing PR man would never be found, because he had been burned together with the dossier he was carrying with him.

* * *

LOOKING back, we wonder how come the Chinoy’s son knew Dacer’s fate.

We surmised that he must have heard his father telling the story at home, because the boy was innocently talking about it long before there was a hint in media that Dacer’s body was set on fire.

How come that Chinoy knew what happened to Dacer?

* * *

THE Moro Islamic Liberation Front is “no longer fighting for an independent state,” according to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reporting on what her emissary to the MILF had told her.

It’s amazing how our President swallowed the hook, line and sinker cast by the naughty MILF. That’s what happens to fish that have not had a good bite for a long time. Or when an election campaign desperately needs some positive news to perk it up.

* * *

IF this report being peddled by GMA is true, that the MILF has dropped its secessionist demand, the story merits a screaming headline complete with an exclamation point!

But before the news desk goes to town with it, maybe:

  1. Arroyo should first show her formal appointment as official spokesman of the MILF.
  2. Or the MILF could issue a formal declaration renouncing now and for always its secessionist vision for Muslim Mindanao.

Otherwise we would be tempted to say that poor GMA is being taken for a ride.

* * *

MEANTIME, with MILF fighters trekking back to Camp Abubakar and other strategic encampments they had lost to government troops, you can now watch the chances of the administration’s People Power Coalition in Mindanao quickly fading.

Election is a game of numbers. It should not be too difficult to imagine how the harassed Christian majority in Mindanao would react to the spectacle of Moro fighters being given back strategic territory that they had lost to the government.

This, plus the fact that ex-President Erap Estrada had somehow succeeded in winning widespread acceptance in Mindanao with his no-nonsense handling of the Moro secessionist problem, could spell disaster for the PPC on Election Day.

* * *

ONE way out of this nightmare is for Malacañang to publish in full the agreements secretly signed by GMA’s runners and the MILF.

If Malacañang is telling the truth about these agreements, there is no reason why the government should not let the public read the full text and savor the good news that, as we’ve said, merits a screaming headline.

(Even if it’s just another headliner without the screaming, it’s still worth a read.)

* * *

COME to think of it, in the same way that public works and poll surveys are banned close to Election Day for obvious reasons, there ought to be a law also against the holding of alleged peace talks, or the declaring of war!, during an election campaign.

The reason is simple. We do not want anybody buying the staging of “peace talks,” or hammering out an alleged “peace formula,” or whipping up a people’s patriotic fervor by waging war timed or angled to boost the election chances of administration candidates.

* * *

HAVING found in their sorties that the temper of voters in some provincial pockets can be different from that of EDSA, election strategists of the administration appear to have developed a kind of fear of Erap Estrada’s vaunted vote-getting charisma.

Word has leaked out that the administration would not rush the resolution and filing of plunder charges against Erap being investigated by the office of the Ombudsman.

The administration is reportedly afraid that filing nonbailable charges of plunder and detaining Erap during trial could generate sympathy votes and boost the winning chances of the ex-President’s candidates.

In short, to play safe, the administration reportedly will not press the filing of heinous charges and the detention of Erap before the May 14 elections. Anyway, it was explained to us, the polls are just a month away. Jail can wait.

* * *

WE move around a lot. Everyday we see in the streets which campaign posters are now peeling off and what new ones are up

One day, a cleanup crew would descend on a major street and remove all the posters. After feeling good seeing the unusually clean walls, flower boxes, posts and whatever else, we are infuriated the next day to see new posters all over the place.

Particularly galling are the overwhelming posters of Loi Estrada (showing her in various youngish poses) that are the first to materialize right after a street cleanup.

What is Erap Estrada’s wife trying to tell us with her swift rebound of new posters? That they have billions and an inexhaustible supply of propaganda materials? That they don’t care about rules and the labor of cleanup crews? That there’s no escaping them?

* * *

STILL on campaign materials, there are these huge full-color billboards of reelectionist senator Gringo Honasan with the shibboleth “Para sa Kapayapaan!” (For Peace!)

It makes one vomit. Can you imagine the blood-thirsty and power-hungry leader of several coup attempts claiming to be the champion of peace? Aaargh!!!

The squeaky voiced colonel who engineered coup plots that set back this poor country’s economy by some 15 years must think we’re a nation of morons who can be hypnotized by slogans.

This bodyguard who cannot seem to move away from the shadow of Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, his boss and benefactor, appears bent on going back to the Senate. What? Another dagdag-bawas operation coming up?

* * *

IF Gringo’s billboard is a case of false advertising, there are many others that are good samples of ineffective attempts to deliver a message.

We’re perplexed by the many posters that simply give the name of a person. Assuming he/she is a candidate, where is he/she running and for what office? Such incomplete messages, probably meant to be teasers, are lost in the poster jungle out there.

We’ve also mentioned before the cryptic posters of many Party List candidacies that do not explain the party acronyms or what they stand for. They are just wasting time and resources and dirtying the surroundings.

* * *

EVER wondered about those mobile ads of Idemitsu posted mostly at the back of buses? They show the face of a woman with flowing hair, the product name Idemitsu, and a line saying it is Japan’s top lubricant.

If you don’t know what Idemitsu is (and we confess we ourselves don’t know, although we suspect it might be motor oil), you could think it is some kind of lubricant for women, maybe a favorite of active Japanese women.

If you’re quite uninitiated, you might also wonder as you stare at the billboard why women would need lubrication.

This is what we mean by incomplete messages that make the pitch a sorry case of lost motion.

Now “lost motion” calls to mind the controversial sex movie “Live Show,” but that’s another story….

* * *

WHATEVER is the political weather, the upgrading of Manila ports goes on. Port operator and logistic provider Asian Terminal Inc. has signed up construction giant FF Cruz Co. Inc. for container yard expansion and pier rehabilitation works in the South Harbor.

Representing ATI in the signing were CEO Richard D. Barclay, SVP Ramon Atayde, and ATI-South Harbor development project manager Arman Sison. FF Cruz was represented by President Felipe F. Cruz, EVP Eric Cruz, VP-Marine Juan Sta. Ana, and marketing manager Joey V. Mamuyac.

Aside from South Harbor, ATI operates the Port of Batangas terminals for cargo, passenger and ro-ro ferries and the Port of General Santos through a joint-venture company. ATI has also built the Mariveles Grain Terminal near the mouth of Manila Bay. Its latest venture is the operation of an exclusive supply base for the $4-billion Malampaya gas exploration project of Shell Philippines Exploration.

ATI has teamed up with P&O Ports, the most globally diverse port operator involved in 84 ports worldwide and operations in container, bulk and general cargo, electronic port operating systems and logistics.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 3, 2001)

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