POSTSCRIPT / February 15, 2001 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Despite EDSA reforms, GMA uses showbiz icons

PUWERSA ng Masa? It’s more of “Perwisyo ng Masa,” reader Joe dela Cruz of says of the senatorial ticket put together by deposed President Estrada from, among others, the reelectionist senators among the Dirty 11 of impeachment trial notoriety.

Dirty 11 refers to the senators who flaunted their majority number last Jan. 16 to block the opening of a second envelop of bank documents covering an account of “Jose Velarde,” an alias used by President Estrada.

The belated opening of the envelope yesterday in the Senate lacked the mega-impact it would have had last month. The contents have become stale as the impeachment trial has been formally closed.

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TAMA nga naman. How can we continue with the impeachment trial when there is no longer a president to try? Erap Estrada, the impeached president, has resigned and is no longer impeachable.

But if Erap insists that he is still the president, then his impeachment trial must proceed. That the Senate terminated the hearing means that the chamber no longer recognizes Erap as the, or a, President.

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BY her senatorial choices for the People Power Coalition, it seems that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is not ready to give up the winning value of showbiz glitter. This despite the EDSA II consensus that voters must be educated and drawn away from celebrity hypnosis.

We can almost see the shrieking fans mobbing the PPC cast led (?) by Vilma Santos, Sharon Cuneta and Nora Aunor (who else but GMA herself?) The poor Perwisyo ng Masa ticket could end up with Erap in the political kankungan!

This showbizzy approach is not fair? When has Philippine politics been fair?

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WHILE Kiko Pangilinan, megastar Sharon’s doting husband, looks hilaw (unripe, not ready) for the Senate in his very first electoral outing, we note that he is youthful, clean, pleasant and studious, and could ripen in time.

Now that he has been included in the high-powered PPC lineup, we concede Kiko to be a sure winner. We hope a Senate stint could fasttrack his ripening.

Among the members of the impeachment prosecution panel, not counting Joker Arroyo whose performance was tops, our sentimental favorites were Pampanga Rep. Oscar Rodriguez (our congressman, siyempre!), Batangas Rep. (now Justice Secretary) Nani Perez, and Leyte Rep. Sergio Apostol who should be the Eastern Visayas voice, accent and all, in the Senate.

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WE confess having a soft spot for Apostol, whose grandfatherly mien we particularly like. As the impeachment trial has shown, he was the only prosecutor who could get away with minor distractions and his addressing lady witnesses as “Madam Wetness.”

Unlike Santanina Rasul, who flared up after failing to grab one of the 13 slots of the PPC, Apostol took his non-inclusion with grace. We’re hoping one of the sure losers in the PPC lineup, for instance Liwayway Chato, will withdraw in favor of Apostol.

After all, Chato’s only known achievements as BIR chief were antagonizing career revenue officers, dragging collections down to sub-target levels and conjuring up alleged truckloads of tax-evasion evidence against her targets.

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ONE Internet item that refuses to go away is an email recalling the claims of some Erap diehards in the Senate that they stayed away from Malacañang when a beleaguered Erap was swaying between fight and flight.

The item keeps cropping up in our mailbox, so we thought we should share it:

“On late night TV, Channels 2, 7 and 21, last Jan. 19, Friday, during the time Estrada was under terrific pressure to resign, these senators of the realm — Juan Ponce Enrile, Tito Sotto and Gringo Honasan — claimed in separate phone interviews that the reports about their having gone to Malacañang were not true.

“Enrile called Channel 7 to complain that he was awakened by his daughter/son about TV and radio reports that he was with Erap in Malacañang. Enrile told the TV show anchors that he was all the time sleeping in his house. He added that he could be called at home by media who knew his number.

“Later, he was on the phone talking to Channel 2 and Channel 21 saying the same thing — that the reports placing him in Malacañang that night were false and malicious. Viewers thought that the report was really erroneous, although they had believed that Enrile was the type who would be with Erap during the negotiations.

“He again challenged media to contact him at home right then.

“Sotto contacted Channel 7 to complain about reports of his flight to the US with his family. Channel 7 said that they never reported that he was on the same flight as his wife and daughter. Sotto then turned his ire on the other channel for reporting his departure for the US.

“When asked if he had gone or would be going to Malacañang, Sotto claimed that he had been sleeping in his house and had just woke up.

“Honasan’s wife called the TV stations to correct reports that her husband was holed up in Malacañang with Erap, Enrile and Sotto and some of pro-Erap senators. Mrs. Honasan said that her husband was in his office calling people up to make sure that there would be no violence as he was deeply concerned about avoiding bloodshed.

“She said he could be contacted at his office where he had been all along.

“Channels 2, 7 and 21 and their sister radio stations should replay these portions/segments of the Jan. 19 late night coverage of Edsa Dos. The public has a right to listen to these senators so their lying could be heard again this time with people already aware of Ed Angara’s diary account of that particular night’s events inside Malacañang.

“Angara had written in his diary that Enrile, Sotto, Honasan, John Osmeña, Tessie Oreta and others were all together in the Presidential Residence (PR). The senators arrived between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. They were reportedly with Erap’s lawyers discussing strategies like having the second envelope opened and calling for snap elections.

“Angara wrote in his diary that Enrile embraced Estrada tightly when he left at 4 o’clock at dawn. There was no specific mention about the time of departure of Sotto, Honasan, Oreta and Osmeña. But the fact remains that they were with Erap in Malacañang that fateful night.

“If they were consulted on Erap’s decision to open the second envelope, then would it be safe to assume that they must have met before the vote to agree not to have the second envelope opened? These senators talked of having voted according to their conscience, yet they were in consultations with the accused on strategy.

“Is it possible that Enrile, Sotto and Honasan had placed their home phones and office phones on call forwarding to their contact numbers in Malacañang?”

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MEANWHILE, here are more responses to our last survey question: “What do you think is the real reason for Erap’s wanting to go abroad?

Readers were asked to pick one of possible answers, and their choices were: To have his eyes treated (3.7% of respondents), To see his mistresses (12.9%), To deposit, withdraw or transfer money (3.7%), To escape charges (31.4%), He has a deal with President Arroyo (5.5%), All of the above (24%), and Other reasons (18.5%).

Manuel A. Collao, Jubail Indus, Saudi Arabia: To have his eyes treated, what else? If he gets blind, how could he enjoy his wealth, ill-gotten or otherwise? How could he see his mistresses and mansions? How would he see this country being run like glory or hell by his successor? Let his eyesight be preserved — but right in our country.

Rebecca V. Felizardo, Concordia College: Erap wants to go abroad to escape charges and to see his mistresses. Erap is now a very lonely man, he needs his other women to comfort him. To have his eyes treated abroad is purely an alibi. He can be treated in one of our best hospitals and have his own “special doctor” — Dr. Loi.

PioClavell, Las Vegas, Nevada: In Edsa I, we regained our freedom from a dictator, but failed to jail Marcos and his cronies. In Edsa II, we have ousted a corrupt regime. We should learn a lesson from Edsa I by not allowing Erap to go abroad for eye surgery. We have competent eye surgeons in Manila.

Manuel C. Diaz, aol: Before we jail Erap would it be appropriate to jail first Imelda Marcos. She has more blood in her hands than Erap. If we cannot jail Imelda how can we jail Erap?

Aida Tanglao-Aguas, California: Magka-casino siya! At saka pupunta sa Disneyland!

Ed Espaldon, Saudi Arabia: Another attempt to deceive the people. If allowed to go, Erap escapes, then it will be a setback for GMA. If he’s not allowed, Erap can gain sympathy because of his health condition and be a rallying point against GMA this coming election.

Isaac S. Limosnero Jr., Aramco, Saudi Arabia: He’s only seeking pitiful-sympathy stance to prove his point that the comeuppance in his leadership shall pass and people won’t seek redress and vindictiveness. Meaning, let’s forgive and forget. Where’s justice and EDSA II then?

Emmanuel D. Sorreta, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Mr. Ejercito’s excuse of going for eye treatment abroad is an insult to the many competent Filipino eye surgeons. Left untreated, glaucoma may cause blindness, but it is not an exotic disease that cannot be treated by eye specialists in Manila. Those who allow Mr. Ejercito out of the country to seek treatment are the ones who are blind.

We’re sorry we cannot run the many other responses.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 15 2001)

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