POSTSCRIPT / August 14, 2001 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Lacson ‘hoard’ could go to US, not to RP gov’t

TONY WRITES “30”: WE join our colleagues in mourning the death of newsman Tony Zumel, 69, one of the key figures in the peace talks going on in the Netherlands between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front.

Word reaching us had it that Tony finally succumbed to massive organ failure complicated by diabetes.

Tony went underground when the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his relative, declared martial rule in 1972 and forced his critics into hiding. Every now and then we would hear from or about him. We sensed that the authorities knew all along where he was, but did not touch him.

He had been sickly. We had an idea of his ailments by the expensive medicines that he would ask some of us to procure for him on the sly. We’re happy that he is now resting in peace.

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OLD BOYS CLUB?: Once Sen. Serge Osmeña stops his childish antics on the floor and the Senate is able to organize its main committees, the chamber will have no more excuse for not calling Senators Ping Lacson and Loi Estrada to a joint inquiry of the Blue Ribbon and the ethics committees.

The two first-time senators must be given the chance to clear themselves before their peers of charges that they had amassed illicit wealth, running to almost $1 billion, and laundering it abroad.

The inquiry will also give the Senate a chance to show the world if it is really an Old Boys Club that routinely clears its members in trouble.

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THE august Senate better act fast because it might be overtaken by events and end up looking like a wet rag.

We can sense that charges will be filed soon against Lacson in the United States, where the courts (and Senate committees) are more credible than the local variety. Once the judicial process starts in the US, we would end up as outsiders looking in.

That would be a slap on the collective face of our judiciary, the Senate, and all of us.

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GET MOVING, R.P.!: If the Arroyo administration does not act fast enough, it might just miss the chance to recover any ill-gotten wealth running into millions of dollars that may be unearthed in the account of Lacson, Estrada or any other Filipino.

Money laundering and related activities such as drugs trafficking are against US federal law. Depending on the complexity of the related crimes, they could even fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the bane of syndicated crime.

Aside from long-term imprisonment and heavy fines, RICO convicts see the fruits of their crimes seized by the government.

When racketeering hoards of Filipinos in American banks are seized by the US government, what will our turtle-paced government do? Issue blah-blah press releases?

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WE’RE not saying here that Lacson and the Estrada couple named with him in the expose of AFP intelligence chief Col. Victor Corpus have dollar hoards in the US and that they have violated federal law.

But if Malacañang believes Corpus (and it seems it does), it better move fast in protecting Philippine interests in US courts without waiting for the prosecution or conviction of the objects of Corpus’ sleuthing.

(If conviction in local courts is what Malacañang is waiting for, it might have to wait forever.)

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WHY SUE IN U.S.?: One of those suing Lacson in the US is Ms. Blanquita Pelaez, the contractor who is going after him for non-payment of P30 million owed her by the Philippine National Police when Lacson was PNP chief.

Why sue in the US? We did not ask her, but we think she surmised it would be useless to sue in a Philippine court.

Since the handcuffs ordered by Lacson’s PNP were from Smith & Wesson, an American firm, she must have figured that a US court is a proper venue. She clinched the PNP deal as S&W’s sales representative here.

If Pelaez locates some Lacson funds in American banks with the help of Corpus’ intelligence team, she could go after the money. She would be another claimant biting off part of any US bank account found in Lacson’s name. There could be others.

Once (if) the US court recognizes the Pelaez suit, there could be basis for the judge to freeze or force open whatever bank accounts Lacson may have in the US.

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INFOTECH NEWS: Anent our fearless forecast that the price of Intel’s lower-end Pentiums and Celerons will soon go down because of Infotech market developments, we got word yesterday from photography whiz Evaristo Nievera (our Estong of the old Manila Times who is now called “Stone” in New York) about Pentium IIIs:

“Prices of Pentium III really went down because of the popularity of the new Pentium 4 and the faster AMD Athlon. I just got a Pentium III-800mhz, 128-mb RAM and a 20-gb hard disk for $475.

“The video card is 16 mb and sound is great with four speakers. I plan to install a DVD drive on it as people here are crazy watching movies on a laptop. Nga pala, the site is if you want to see how prices are.”

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BACK here, we just installed additional RAM (random access memory), because prices have gone down considerably.

One 128-mb RAM, the PC 133 type, costs only P850, or almost a third of what it used to be. Stick one or two 128-mb RAM chips into your PC and see it perk up. Since they are not that expensive anymore, buy two and suddenly you’re in the 256-mb club!

Even if your PC is still the Pentium 2/3 type with a bus speed of only PC 100, buy the newer PC 133 SDRAM chip. We tested it ourselves and it works with a motherboard and a Pentium processor of the slower PC 100 model.

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BUT do not mix your old PC 100 and the PC 133 RAM modules. You will have to remove the PC 100 chips. You will feel good handing them down to somebody who can use them.

If later you want to upgrade your configuration to PC 133 bus speed, you already have the RAM chips ready.

Will these PC 133 RAM chips be the right ones in case you want to go up to Pentium 4? Don’t even think about Pentium 4 if you are the ordinary home or office user. You don’t need it yet. Your Pentium 2/3 is good for many more years.

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ePOSTSCRIPT: We have to explain our using subheads in our text. Postscript usually covers various topics. Yet it has only one head, which does not reflect all the topics covered by the column.

That’s the main reason for the subheads in bold capitals, which is to cut up and identify various topics of the column. The secondary reason is aesthetic. The subheads help break the drab gray text.

Thirdly, since we’re about to add an Archive (of our past columns) to our personal website which carries our online ePOSTSCRIPT, and since the head does not fully reflect the contents of each column, we want to help the online reader or researcher by inserting the descriptive subheads.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 14, 2001)

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