POSTSCRIPT / July 31, 2001 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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A veto can’t be recalled? That’s a legislative myth!

AS a non-lawyer, we’re bewildered by remarks in learned circles that the recall of a presidential veto is a legal impossibility and that, therefore, it was improbable for the husband of the President to have taken a bribe for the recall of a veto message.

The same circles add that the only way to undo a veto is for Congress to override it by two-thirds vote of all the members of each House acting separately.

Pardon our layman’s understanding of the legislative process, but we think there is another way for a veto to be recalled without resorting to an override. It is by working through the usual Malacañang-Congress back channels.

* * *

THE President has 30 days to act on a bill sent to her by Congress. If she signs approval within the deadline, it becomes law. If she vetoes it within the 30 days, she sends it back with an explanation. If she fails to act on it either way during the 30 days, the bill is deemed approved.

Now note this: If the President vetoes the bill before the 30 days lapse and the veto message is sent back right away to the House where the bill originated, the President still has a chance to recall the veto if she acts fast enough within the ordained 30 days.

How? She sends her liaison officer to hurry over to the House concerned and retrieve the documents before the 30-day deadline. Of course, if that chamber refuses to hand over the documents, the veto message is trapped.

* * *

BUT in the normal course of Malacañang-Congress relations, the retrieval of documents still in flux is normal. More so in the case of a veto, because the recall of a veto means precisely that the President favors the action taken by Congress.

In such a situation, it is reasonable to expect the legislature to look the other way as the papers are retrieved and later returned with favorable presidential action.

We’re not saying that this was what happened to the bill granting a controversial franchise to a telecommunications firm of a crony of former President Erap Estrada. The records show that the veto was not recalled.

We’re just saying that there’s this practical way to recall a presidential veto if Malacañang moves fast enough and pulls the right switches.

* * *

THIS is similar to petty theft around town. If a snatcher grabs your watch in Quiapo, for instance, and the thief runs faster than your guardian angel, hurry over to the nearest police precinct.

Mustering all the acting prowess at your command, tell the police your sad story and tug at their heart strings. If your acting is convincing enough, or you “motivate” them enough, you might just be able to recover the lost article.

The police assigned to an area usually know all the underworld characters operating within their jurisdiction. If the police send word to the boys that the snatching victim is “hindi katalo” (untouchable), the watch is returned.

Sometimes we should be grateful for such back channels, in Congress and in the streets.

* * *

AS we hold Sen. Nene Pimentel in high esteem, we offer him unsolicited advice before political hypertension gets him: He might want to tone down and space out his anti-administration outbursts to a more credible level.

After he lost the Senate presidency to Sen. Franklin Drilon, whom he probably suspects to be the President’s niño bonito, a spurned Pimentel started outperforming himself as an archcritic of the administration.

Pero, oo nga naman, why should President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo forget that just six months ago Pimentel sidled up to her on EDSA and held the microphone while she took her oath as the successor of ousted President Estrada?

We don’t want to see a livid Pimentel self-destructing as bitter vile rises from his gut to his tongue.

* * *

THAT picture of Pimentel holding the mike for the President reminds us of then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando dutifully holding the parasol of then First Lady Imelda R. Marcos in many an outdoor function.

There’s nothing wrong with a gentleman’s holding a parasol for a lady or for an expectant senator the mike for an incoming president. In fact, if we had the chance to do that, maybe we would have done that con mucho gusto.

But his friends are discomfited by Pimentel’s mentioning his having held the mike for GMA at that historic moment juxtaposed against her not returning the gesture by supporting him in his quest for the Senate presidency.

* * *

IN the matter of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo fending off accusations that he took a bribe to work for the recall of a presidential veto, we think the cards are stacked up against him.

Firstly, Mr. Arroyo is a natural target of the slings and arrows intended for his wife the President. With GMA’s integrity wrapped in teflon, one way of destroying her is by destroying people close to her.

Secondly, Mr. Arroyo happens to be the subject of unflattering gossip even before the wife became President. He entered Malacañang carrying some baggage. He is thus vulnerable.

* * *

THE trouble with us as a people is that, having seen it all again and again, we are disposed to believe, without verifying, every juicy gossip we hear about high government officials, their cronies and relatives.

Caught between the story of a daughter of the revered Soc Rodrigo and the denials of a man about town, the public is likely to believe the former without hearing the other side. It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.

The sad thing is that the wife ends up wasting valuable time and energy mopping up after the husband instead of attending to the more urgent needs of the people she is sworn to serve as President.

* * *

VIRUS ALERT: We cannot postpone sending out this alert. In fact, it comes rather late in the day. There is an epidemic of computer viruses that are inadvertently spread in alarming proportions via attachments in email.

For several days now, we’ve been receiving a daily average of seven email infected with viruses. Friends tell us of the same experience. We have had to go to the rescue of some of them.

We’re fortunate (knock on wood) so far that our updated Norton anti-virus shield has been able to filter them out. And if it’s any consolation, the viruses so far detected are reportedly not of the virulent type.

Some of them have been identified as W32.Sircam.worm@mm, W95.Hybris.worm, and WScript.KakWorm.

* * *

WE repeat our hoary advice: Do not open email attachments unless you’re dead sure they are clean. The problem is that you cannot be sure, even if the item comes from sources known to you.

In many of the case we’ve encountered, the senders were not even aware that they had sent us infected files. Their only mistake was that they opened an infected attachment, thereby unleashing the virus.

Upon being released, the virus jumps into action, sending itself to a number of the persons in the victim’s address book.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 31, 2001)

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