POSTSCRIPT / February 11, 2001 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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What’s the real reason for Erap going abroad?

WHY does Erap Estrada want to go abroad? What’s the real reason? Toward the middle of today’s Postscript, we have another survey of readers’ opinion. Please check it out and rush a response.

* * *

IF Erap Estrada is still the President of the Republic as he claims, why is he asking for the permission of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to go to the United States for eye treatment? As a supposed sovereign, why doesn’t he just board a plane and leave?

His travel plan was divulged by JV Ejercito, the same son by former actress Guia Gomez who got his father in sticky inconsistencies by talking too much during the impeachment trial.

(Of course the anti-Erap camp and the media did not really mind JV’s talking out of turn, for it gave them more grist for their respective mill.)

* * *

HEARING the excuse given for the projected foreign trip, which is to seek eye treatment, my barber said it made sense.

“Humihina na raw ang kita,” he sniffed.

We could only agree. Erap having lost the presidency, his daily income must have dropped drastically. Humina na talaga ang kita niya.

An excited Erap once told a close associate early in his term that being president was really super. One does not do anything, he reportedly gushed, but sacks of money just keep coming.

Now, after getting sacked himself, the moolah ain’t comin’ no moh.

* * *

ERAP should be more original in concocting excuses for his foreign sojourn. His old friend Imelda R. Marcos holds a patent to the eye-treatment line. (And it has worked for her — we mean the excuse, not the eye treatment.)

We’re wont to ask the same questions we did in Imelda’s case. For instance, why are Filipino eye doctors here not good enough for Erap (as they were not good enough for Ma’am)?

In fact, Erap could just listen to Ernie Baron on dzMM and attend his seminar at Sidcor Resort in Cubao where he teaches desperate patients his cleansing diet that could cure practically anything. That’s on 630 mhz, and it’s in Tagalog.

* * *

ANOTHER question: Why does not Erap just dip into his P30 billion squirreled away in various banks and bring in the eye specialists of his choice? With his billions, he could hire a special jet to fly in a team of doctors with their equipment and special drugs.

Instead of borrowing Imelda’s eye-treatment alibi, Erap could float the more credible story of having been advised to have his pickled liver treated in Piccadilly. Or having his bum knee (with a broken banjo) fixed in Alabama.

* * *

IF Erap listened more to his doctors than to his lawyers, he could have worked out the most graceful exit by pulling an award-winning performance about a deadly liver ailment, and going on leave while GMA temporarily took over the presidency.

With his boys giving Gloria trouble every day of her temporary tenure as Acting President, she would have been shown to be incompetent and ineffective.

Then, having proved a dubious point, an Erap fresh from a medical makeover abroad would come home to reclaim the presidency, consolidate his position and continue adding to his hoard and his harem.

* * *

MY barber adds as an after-thought that if Erap were to be allowed to go to the US, one condition should be that his wife Loi Ejercito be handcuffed to him and the key left with Cardinal Sin.

He notes that the US trip idea was floated by JV. The boy could be doing it for his mama Guia who must be getting cold and lonely in her hiding place in the States, he says.

* * *

REFUSING to let go the subject, my barber presses: “On his way to the alleged eye clinic, will Erap also deposit or withdraw a few million dollars?” (Oo nga, ano?)

There is the rumor that refuses to go away that the main reason for the precipitous drop of the peso during the impeachment imbroglio was the conversion of suitcases of pesos by cronies and mistresses hurrying to take out the dollars.

The velocity of the dollar flight was something the fragile peso could not withstand.

* * *

STILL others want to ask GMA directly if this proposed trip is not again one of those deals being discussed between her and Erap. They have not forgotten that Gloria herself said in one unguarded moment that “exile” for Erap was the ousted President’s call.

The EDSA crowd is right in saying that that “exile” deal, reminiscent of the ridiculous omnibus settlement nearly forged by Imelda and Erap when he was still playing president, was betrayal of the spirit of EDSA-II.

Some 95 percent of Postscript readers responding to our last survey voiced the same vehement objections, delivered a deafening “No” to allowing exile for Erap.

With exile having been hooted down, are the deal-makers now working out a medical mercy trip for Erap?

* * *

SO now we ask you your opinion. The question is: What do you think is the real reason for Erap’s wanting to go abroad? Pick one of the answers below and tell us:

  1. To have his eyes treated.
  2. To see one or several of his mistresses.
  3. To deposit or withdraw or transfer some money.
  4. To escape charges to be filed with the Sandiganbayan.
  5. There is a deal with GMA.
  6. All of the above.
  7. Another reason (specify).

* * *

MOVE fast and catch the first batch of respondents. Don’t forget to indicate your Age, Sex and Location for our statistical analysis. You can add an 80-word comment, subject to editing to suit our space and style.

To make it easier for us to sort the responses from the rest of the mail, please type “ERAP TRIP” on the subject line if you’re using email, or on the envelope if you’re using regular post or a messenger. And again, please do not send attachments.

* * *

WE can’t understand why First Gentleman Mike Arroyo is being denounced for shaking the hand of taipan Lucio Tan, among other guests, at a Malacañang function. Tan was at the head of a delegation from the Chinese federation that called on President Arroyo.

One of the duties of the host is to be at least civil to the guests. So why should the First Gentleman turn his back when Tan steps forward to greet him and his wife the President?

We cannot forget the sight of Erap Estrada wresting away his hand and turning away when our governor Lito Lapid, in a public display of humility, bowed to the visiting President and moved to take his hand (magmamano sana).

Whatever political differences the two gentlemen had, Erap’s manner was crude, rude and very unpresidential. Kaya tuloy, ayan, he lost the presidency!

As my grandmother used to say, one loses nothing by being polite.

* * *

THE so-called People Power Coalition is set to finalize today its senatorial slate for the May elections and many EDSA-II cardholders are frantic.

We’re not a member of any political party, much less of that EDSA coalition, and our opinion does not matter, but we would feel better speaking out now, not later, about some of the individuals being considered for the Senate.

We agree with most of the PPC choices mentioned so far, but would like to take note of a few nominees.

* * *

BETWEEN Gov. Lito Osmeña and Sen. Serge Osmeña, the better senatorial material is the latter. Serge has been a conscientious senator who does his homework. And he smells cleaner. It may not be fair to Lito, but we’re inclined to believe reports that when he joins in, there’s a business angle to it.

Broadcaster Noli de Castro sounds good on radio and TV to the mass audience, but that’s all there is to the product. Ask around in media, where people know one another. Besides, having ousted Erap, the EDSA team is supposed to stand for integrity.

Youthful lawyer Kiko Pangilinan, megastar Sharon’s husband, is good material. But he is still medyo hilaw for this year’s Senate. Listening to him talk, even on his supposed area of expertise (law), is disappointing if one is looking for depth and breadth and a razor-sharp mind. But if he keeps at it, especially because he’s clean, pleasant and studious, he might just be ripe for it when 2004 comes around.

* * *

WHATEVER we say, Noli and Kiko are concededly high in the popularity polls. They have what Erap Estrada, Ramon Revilla, Jaworski, Gringo Honasan, Imelda Papin, Joey Marquez and other media creations, have. But that’s about all.

In the matter of substance and sharpness, Noli and Kiko are no match to their ABS-CBN colleague Dong Puno. But while the diminutive Puno towers above them, he may just be too smart for comfort. People have been burned badly with the other Punos smoldering in the kaingin of the bureaucracy.

Anchor Ted Failon, another ABS-CBN personality jumping from media to politics this year, is more realistic by aiming lower and targeting a congressional seat in a Leyte dominated by the Romualdezes. We wish him luck.

* * *

WITH the political unrest and now the coming elections, Raffy Alunan, the big boss of Maynilad Water is getting frantic as their petition for an automatic currency exchange rate adjustment has remained unacted upon by the MWSS board.

For some strange reason, the water firm cannot resort to the same automatic rate adjustment enjoyed by such public utilities as Meralco and the PLDT. With the deterioration of the peso, Maynilad has been losing money and is in danger of not being able to pay the foreign loans it has inherited from MWSS. Hence the petition with the MWSS.

Continued inaction of the MWSS board could bring back water rates of P150-P300 per cubic meter (vs Maynilad’s P6.58 per cubic meter!), render supply scarce and unreliable, revert us to our lining up and our having to make do with unsafe water peddled by “aguadores.”

* * * 

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 11, 2001)

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