POSTSCRIPT / August 30, 2001 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA was just giving an opinion, not an order

THIS observer does not consider it meddling when President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said that she was for the Senate pursuing its inquiry into charges that Sen. Panfilo Lacson had engaged in criminal activities, including drug trafficking and money-laundering.

It is in fact the duty of the President to make a clear stand on important public issues, especially one affecting national security.

President Arroyo was not ordering the Senate. She was just giving an opinion. If a columnist, my barber, or a man in the street can express an opinion on the Lacson affair, what more with the Chief Executive?

Having installed her to a position of leadership where she has access to information not available to the rest of us, we expect counsel and guidance from the President. Of course, it is all up to us to listen to her or not.

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SEPARATION OF POWERS?: The principle of separation of powers does not apply in this case since the President, in expressing an opinion through a spokesman, is neither usurping a purely legislative function nor ordering legislators around.

Legislators, in turn, can also give their opinion about the President, the presidency and everything else about her without the issue of separation of powers being raised.

Separation of powers in theory and practice is not absolute. As we have seen on many instances, there is a sharing of functions, or what we want to call a complementation, among the three branches of government.

Just yesterday, the Commission on Appointments composed of senior senators and congressmen, passed upon some presidential appointees. All these years, nobody has raised the issue of Congress meddling in presidential prerogatives and actions.

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SHARED LAWMAKING: Even the lawmaking function of Congress is not exclusive. The president often proposes a legislative agenda, and Congress seriously considers it. She normally comments, sometimes in very strong terms, on some pending bills.

All bills approved by the legislature have to be acted upon by the President to become law. She wields veto power over legislative action. The issue of separation is never raised.

Even when an approved measure is not acted upon by the president in 30 days and it lapses into law, such inaction is actually a form of presidential action, because it moves back the bill to Congress as a new law.

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MUM’S NOT THE WORD: A lawyer might argue that these examples we just gave of complementation are not considered inter-department meddling because they are precisely allowed, sometimes even dictated, by the Constitution.

While we concede that the charter does not have an explicit mandate for President Arroyo to comment on whether a Senate inquiry be pursued or not, neither is there an express prohibition.

That is how it should be, because we cannot work under a Constitution that would gag the president on such crucial subjects as wholesale robbery, murder, kidnapping, drug-trafficking and money-laundering.

While citizens and taxpayers can raise a howl, the president must keep mum? What would happen to us if we had for a president one of those Senate types whose guiding rule in their public life is “No talk, no mistake”?

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IT’S JUST OPINION: In saying she would like to see the Senate pursuing its inquiry, President Arroyo was not issuing an order. Not even a party directive. She was merely giving an opinion.

This opinion, the Senate can heed or ignore. We were amused that some senators went out of their way to issue press releases saying that the President was meddling.

We can add the judiciary in our overview of interdepartment “meddling” and we would see the picture of three co-equal branches of government moving in their respective spheres but continually bumping one another in healthy complementation.

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INTEL’S 2-GHz CHIP!: Intel Corp., the largest maker of microchips, has begun selling a Pentium 4 processor that runs at two gigahertz, or two billion cycles per second.

The 2-ghz Pentum 4 came just 18 months after Intel introduced a Pentium 4 with a minimum speed of 1.3 ghz. A chip’s clock speed is one factor in the overall power of a computer.

Intel’s close rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) introduced in March last year its Athlon processor, beating Intel in passing the 1-ghz milestone for processors. This time, Intel has grabbed back the lead in the computer chips race.

AMD’s fastest Athlon chip runs at 1.4 ghz. Some independent tests have shown, however, that the Athlons beat comparative Pentiums of the same clock speed (meaning a 1.4-ghz Athlon beats a 1.4-ghz Pentium).

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PRICE SLASHES LOOM: Good news for local users is a decision of Intel to slash prices on its current line of Pentium 4 chips by as much as 54 percent. We’ll see if this is enough reason for PC makers to replace the older Pentium III with Pentium 4 in their less expensive PCs.

As we’ve been saying here, if you’re not in a hurry to get a new PC or to upgrade your present hardware, wait for prices to tumble with the drastic drop in the price of Pentium processors and the stabilizing of the peso’s exchange rate.

Many local users have told us that they find no urgent need for the faster and more expensive Pentium 4s. Unless Intel also cuts its Pentium 4 prices, most local users, we think, will stick for a long while to their Pentium 2s and III’s.

The Pentium 4 chip (just the processor, not the entire PC!) is being sold in New York for $562 each in 1,000-unit quantities. Intel said a chip that runs at 1.9 ghz will be sold for $375.

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CAPAMPANGAN TAMU: Ing Akademyang Kapampangan (AKKAP), Pampanga’s oldest cultural association, will celebrate today its 64th organizational anniversary at the Angeles University Foundation in Angeles City by honoring its three founders.

The AKKAP will feature orally, visually and choreographically the literary pieces of poets laureate Monico R. Mercado (1875-1953) of Sasmuan, Pampanga — “Ketang Milabas”; Zoilo J. Hilario (1892-1963) of San Fernando City — “Reyna ning Malasya”; and Amado M. Yuzon (1906-1979) of Guagua, Pampanga — “Ortelano.” Today happens to be Yuzon’s 95th birth anniversary.

AKKAP president Josie Dizon-Henson said the affair will be held in cooperation with the AUF (the group’s oldest patron), the UP San Fernando on Clark Field whose director Dr. Juliet C. Mallari is the AKKAP board chairman, and the Sinukwan Dance Training Center whose director Peter de Vera is an active member.

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ePOSTSCRIPT: Do you know that there is always an advance copy of Postscript at our website The night before our column comes out, it is already uploaded on our personal ManilaMail website. Try accessing it before going to bed on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday night.

While most of us in the Philippines are still asleep and unaware of what the next morning’s papers carry, readers in the United States are already reading PhilSTAR online.

Most of the early reactions emailed to us come from the US. That’s partly because while we’re still sleeping, they are already up and perusing our online edition. Some of them say they go straight to and check on Postscript.

We have added, btw, an Archive where past Postscripts can be read without clutter and distraction. A subject Index has also been added to for researchers, although, sorry, we’re still polishing it online.

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ERRATA: Thanks to our alert and well-informed readers, two errors in our past business notes were spotted: (1) Efren de la Cruz: It’s McKinsey not McKenzie (the top management consulting outfit in the US) that was commissioned by business titan John Gokongwei, and (2) Tonie C. Chico: It’s United Overseas Bank (UOB) in Singapore that is acquiring Overseas Union Bank (OUB), and not the other way around. We’re impressed!

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 30, 2001)

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