POSTSCRIPT / January 2, 2001 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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New survey question: Who’s the Mad Bomber?

LEST we forget, let’s post again the message we printed right here right after the spate of bombings last Saturday:

Jose Velarde is still on the loose, remember, free to sow mayhem. The earlier he is put behind bars, the better for this badly battered nation.

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IT’S tragic that we have come to this. The serial bombings that claimed more than a dozen innocent lives in one day was a miscalculation, reminiscent of the monumental miscalculation that took the life of Ninoy Aquino in 1983 during martial rule.

Held hostage by the dregs of the ruthless Marcos machine, a groggy President Estrada appears to be slipping dangerously into a Marcosian type of end-game desperation.

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ONE popular guide to unmasking the mastermind behind massive violence is to pinpoint who has the (1) Motive, the (2) Resources, and the (3) Opportunity.

As usual, our insightful readers may have their own conclusions already about the Mad Bomber, the mastermind. Let’s now survey their response to this question: Everything considered, who do you think is the Mad Bomber?

Write a very brief paragraph explaining your answer, and add your personal circumstances of age, sex and location. Do not type in ALL CAPITALS as we have no time to retype all-caps text that happens to be quotable.

For easier sorting from the rest of the mail, please write MAD BOMBER on the subject line of your email, or on the envelope if you’re responding via the post office or by messenger.

Those communicating by email are advised to use only their regular ISP-provided email addresses as return address to facilitate verification. We also advise letter-writing brigades not to bother. We can spot organized mailing a mile away.

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IN fairness to our readers who responded to our earlier survey but whose messages did not fit into Postscript last Sunday, we again cram some of the remaining responses today. To the many others whose email we cannot accommodate, our apologies.

The previous question was: What is the Best Exit (among four options given) for President Estrada? Some of the responses:

Racel T. Domingo, 34, retired bank employee, mother of 3: None of the four options given. Since Erap is a very proud and very stubborn individual defying even God’s divine law on morality, he deserves all the humiliating consequences of his acts. Considering the gravity of his acts, which are all criminal, and being non-repentant, he does not deserve any mercy nor forgiveness. Considering also the negative impact that his imprudence made on our lives, he must go to jail. We caught a big fish, why let him go? His imprisonment is a good precedent for good government. It will be a turning point in our history.

Arcy422: Mr. Estrada should resign immediately without any condition. This is our last chance to stop this vicious cycle of beginning and ending with a thief at the helm. In all probability, anyone who gets to occupy any government position would steal/get all he can. Why? Nobody gets punished for enriching one’s self while in government!

Kenneth Wood: The best way for the President to get an honorable exit is to arrange that he is suffering from a chronic ailment (my suggestion is liver ailment). The doctors will then certify that he would not be able to stand trial. He files a leave of absence, and turns over the presidency to the Vice President, up to the end of his term.

Augustus C. Mamaril, 49, UP Diliman: There is only one option, and it’s for his unconditional resignation. However, up to this point, nearly everything has been tried to bring about Estrada’s removal but he refuses to budge. The common weakness of all these methods is that they are premised on the assumption that Estrada has a sense of right and wrong. He probably had that sense early in life, considering that the rest of his family (save one) seem to be upright. That he ascended the political ladder with much ease in spite of his little preparation and qualification gave the man the belief that he could always get away with cutting corners. It helped that a large number of our people have a compliant and unquestioning attitude. It grieves me to concede that a number of alumni and bureaucrats of once-revered institutions such as UP, Ateneo, and De La Salle, continue to feed off him and provide him some semblance of legitimacy. By and large, the military is seemingly hopeless and helpless. The senator-judges? Forget about being over-optimistic. This shameful Philippine situation has no parallel elsewhere in the world. Solution? Sadly, let’s face reality: Estrada is not going to resign, because he thinks he cannot be wrong. Whether we agree or not, when we have exhausted legal options available, the only way for Estrada to go shall only be extra-constitutional intervention— either people-powered or divine.

Ray Rosario, Beverly Hills, Calif.: Erap has no choice but to accept the “guilty verdict by the Filipino people and the whole world watching the trial” regardless of the expected “political vote of not guilty” by one-third of the Senate. To be pardoned, he should first give back to the people all of his ill-gotten wealth and reveal all his cronies who have similarly enriched themselves by illegal means.

Fernando B. Duque: Erap should resign unconditionally now. Being the super macho that he wants to show the world he is, Erap would even think of cowering under the shadow of some conditions. Submitting to a virtual surrender by resigning is already a bitter pill and so I would venture to reason that Erap would rather resign but without any conditions.

Beck Felizardo, Concordia College: Resign unconditionally without waiting for the conclusion of the impeachment trial. With this option, Mr. Estrada/Velarde could be acclaimed as the “Best Actor of the Year.” Resigning is a supreme act only a best actor can play. Saving the country from international shame and economic downfall, saving your own families from further embarrassment and above all, saving the Filipino people from disunity and chaos is the best action you can perform now.

E. Gustilo, 36, Atlanta, GA: Resign unconditionally now. Any resignation preconditions will only make a mockery of the laws. The lack of accountability among Philippine officialdom is the root cause of corruption. The “I can get away with it” attitude is the stigma that has corrupted everyone. It’s time the citizens demanded that the full extent of the law be upheld in prosecuting government corruption. It is time to hold the government accountable.

Emilio Santos Jr.: No negotiations. No acceptances. No agreements. Every head of state is accountable to his countrymen. There should be an accounting. The saddest part is… we are now carrying the burden and will still be, whatever will be the outcome. I pin my hopes on the highest tribunal in the Philippines regarding this matter and not on the legislative body.

Gerry Francia, andresons: Whoever takes part in “negotiating” a graceful way out will be equally culpable. For once, can we Filipinos stand up for principles and fight for the truth? Can we, for a change, defend our honor and dignity and not sell out? That is the pathetic plight we are in — we forget easily (the Marcos atrocities and billions) and now we want to forgive easily.

Paul Dade, 57, Texas: President Estrada should just resign, cut out and quickly. He should distance himself from his gambling friends, businessmen who befriended him to get the choice pie in government contracts and monopoly in business. He should distance himself from his parasite Cabinet men whose agenda are for personal advancement making Erap their stepping stone. Most of all, he should forget what his lawyers tell him; they just want to continue their services, to have basis for claiming fat fees.

Jun Cruz, Pasig: Best exit for Erap is to act, as in a movie, that he had a heart attack and he died. Then he has to be buried in the San Juan cemetery. So naka-exit na si Erap. Only problem is how to get him out, kasi babantayan ko and I will make sure he will not rise again from the dead!

JREvidente: Acquittal followed by resignation or going on leave is very dangerous. Estrada might not resign, much less go on leave after a negotiated acquittal. He is not that trustworthy. Conviction followed by pardon is not practicable because a guilty verdict will automatically oust him and he would then be barred from holding any public office. He cannot be given pardon by any incoming President. However, if somebody files criminal charges against Estrada after he is ousted and he is found guilty, then he may be pardoned by the sitting President. The best option, therefore, would be for him to resign unconditionally; broadcast or write his mea culpa to the Filipino people; and then make the proper restitution for all public funds that he may have taken illegally; and finally donate to the government all moneys he collected from jueteng.

Francis Samonte, Boston, Mass.: I’m thinking of an Option 5, which is for Mr. Estrada to resign immediately even before the conclusion of his impeachment trial, and to ask the people for greater understanding and forgiveness before being given a presidential pardon. This is the most ideal option (but then also wishful of course).

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 2, 2001)

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