POSTSCRIPT / February 27, 2001 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Everybody’s restrained on Erap case, except him

THIS soldier falls in line behind our Publisher Max Soliven when he thunders:

“The Supreme Court doesn’t need kibitzers to prod its Justices to expedite the promulgation of a decision resolving the constitutionality of GMA’s assumption of the Presidency….

“Those stupid outcries, vicious insinuations that Supreme Court justices have been ‘bought,’ muttered threats, and other attempts to pressure the Court into hastily resolving the matter are highly irresponsible and uncalled for….”

We do so, not only because he is the Boss but more so because he is right.

* * *

AS we said last Thursday, we think the tribunal — accused of dragging its feet — is showing that it is also concerned for the rights of the accused. It has to project fairness and objectivity, thereby preparing the public mind to accept and respect its impending decision.

As you will see soon, the Supreme Court will live up to our expectation as the fount of justice and equity. It will rule in favor of GMA’s presidency, rule out Erap’s claim of immunity from suit, and hand Rene Saguisag another defeat.

What takes time is researching and building up the legal arguments to justify the impending decision. The ponente could just rewrite the briefs of the government and the GMA lawyers, but that would be too obvious.

* * *

STILL, many nervous types have been gnawing their fingernails into stubs as they wait in suspense for the Supreme Court to decide whether Erap Estrada is President-on-Leave or President-has-Left.

What are a few fingernails between friends, you might ask. You see, everyone has been restrained, except the one who should be. Lover boy and his ladies have been busy, it seems, withdrawing their filthy millions from their friendly neighborhood bank.

If Ombudsman Aniano Desierto and the rest of the desert foxes could be held back, cannot their quarry be similarly restrained from retrieving the loot and burying it elsewhere?

* * *

BEGGING your indulgence on this lazy Tuesday, but we’ll do some housekeeping in today’s Postscript. This will involve a little tinkering with our hardware, software and files, and straying to some personal trivia.

After heavily using Netscape’s latest Version 6 for weeks, we’re reporting that we’re not happy with it despite its overload of new features, including an option for a modern (as against the old classic) theme. We encountered a few bugs, which have been duly reported.

We now want to revert to Netscape 4.75 (Communicator), but we’re not so sure if our mailboxes and address books will be carried back intact from Netscape 6. Will the experts please come to the rescue and reassure us?

* * *

SINCE we cannot use or reply to every message sent to us, some readers wonder if their email to us gets through. Normally it should, but these are some of the reasons why an item may not reach us:

  1. Wrong addressYou could be using our old address or you misspelled it. Just one stray letter or a misplaced dot could spell the difference. Do: Recheck the address before sending mail. Sometimes you may also have to review/update your address book.
  2. File being sent is too bigWe have set a 50-kb limit to the size of email that can be downloaded. Anything bigger is skipped. Do: Keep messages short. Delete accumulated addresses and routing details if you’re forwarding messages. Do not use fancy fonts, razzle-dazzle effects, or special stationery. When transmitting several photos or graphics, reduce their sizes and send them separately, preferably after alerting us.
  3. Mail has attachmentAll incoming mail with attachment is automatically shunted to trash. Do: Copy/paste files onto your message instead of attaching them.
  4. Sender has been filtered out or blockedParties who have sent us viruses or have been habitually sending attachments have been blacklisted. Do: If you suspect you have been blacklisted, please check with us.
  5. Message was not actually sent, but only queuedSometimes mail that you thought was already sent was actually held on queue for some reason. Do: After clicking Send, check your outbox to see if your message was actually sent.
  6. Your internal date/time settings may be wrongMail could be inadvertently dumped with the old files, and missed, if your Windows calendar is not set correctly. Do: Go to Control Panel, Date/Time, and check the entries. Or right-click the time at the right end of the taskbar at the bottom of your screen and check your Date/Time settings.
  7. Our mailbox is full. A temporary situation. When informed that our mailbox is clogged, we promptly clean it. Do: Read the advice that came with the bounced message and you’ll know what to do.

* * *

IT was bound to happen. Confused acquaintances have asked us if we are the same Federico Pascual who was appointed by Erap Estrada as GSIS boss and who is now reportedly poised to testify against the ex-President.

Before Erap’s fall, a few lost souls had sought us out with their folders pertaining to some GSIS loans or project that they wanted to make “lakad” with me. We would laugh over the mix-up and dismiss it as one of the hazards of the trade.

But when one reader, Art Aquitania using a cs.com address, asked us in earnest and in writing, we felt we have to reply and finally clarify things in writing.

His query: “Is the Federico Pascual, who was the former head of GSIS and who will testify against Erap, and you the same person? Please settle a long standing debate regarding this.”

* * *

WITH apologies to my tocayo in the more (it seems) rewarding racket of banking and finance, this was my reply to Mr. Aquitania:

“The answer is No. And my barber says I should buy a half-page and place a newspaper notice or warning to the public that said Federico Pascual, formerly an Erap official, is not the same Federico Pascual, et cetera, who writes Postscript. Any transaction entered into by him… blah, blah… will not be honored… Or something to that effect.

“Seriously, I have in mind reverting to my old by-line, which was ‘By Federico Pascual Jr.’ At least my father (deceased) would be pleased, I’m sure. But then, I’m not sure how my mother, who will turn 97 this November, would take my dropping the middle initial ‘D,’ which is her ‘Dizon.’

“A compromise ‘By Federico D. Pascual Jr.,’ to cover all combinations, might be unwieldy. And, on second thought, if I sign as Federico Pascual Jr. (as I used to for many years), some people might think I’m the son of somebody from GSIS with a dagger poised on Erap’s back. Ang gulo, ano?”

What do you think?

* * *

WE nearly forgot. We mentioned briefly last Thursday that former congressman Dante Liban wrote to take exception to comments that it would be disastrous to appoint him energy secretary in view of his perceived sympathies for the oil cartel.

Tinga was chairman of the House committee on energy behind the approval of the oil deregulation law that many critics said was responsible for the runaway increases in the price of petroleum products during the tenure of ex-President Estrada.

“That is totally untrue and unfair,” he said of insinuations that the oil cartel wanted him named energy secretary. “I am not their choice… somebody else is.” He did not say who.

* * *

TINGA also defended the oil deregulation law, saying that in time it would prove itself to be an effective dampener to unjustified price increases in a deregulated market.

“The law is working,” he said. “But it needs time and sound and dynamic implementation to make it work.” Maybe that’s why he wants to become energy secretary.

But we would be more impressed with Tinga if he proved first his wild claim that there is an “expensive demolition job launched against me by conspirators salivating for the position.” Who are the imagined conspirators and what does he mean by “expensive”?

* * *

NICK Florio, country chairman of Caltex, is more direct and specific in discussing price and deregulation. He told us:

“There was no runaway overpricing that occurred. Prices went up, successively in fact, because the two factors that affect pricing of gasoline, namely crude oil cost and peso exchange rate, were both ‘going in the wrong direction.’

“Crude cost peaked at $31 per barrel from a low of $23 per barrel due to the decision of oil-producing countries to limit oil supply in the market, therefore jacking up the prices of crude oil. On the other hand, the peso peaked to an average of P50:$1 from P40:$1 at the start of 2000 due to the exodus of foreign funds from the Philippines because of the volatile political situation.

“Clearly, these factors are the culprits of the increasing prices of local fuel last year and not because of the deregulation law as you attributed in your column. These twin factors are external and even if the Estrada government applied extreme pressure on the oil companies, it could not control the rising prices of gasoline.

“Retail prices of petroleum products were lower in the Philippines last year than in any non-oil producing Southeast Asia country.”

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 27, 2001)

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