POSTSCRIPT / May 8, 2001 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Miriam more macho than Gringo in hiding

SORRY, I’m coming in a little late, but please allow me a brief comment on the “State of Rebellion” question.

The papers yesterday reported that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has “lifted her xxx order imposing a state of rebellion.”

We wonder how anybody, even a president, could have issued an order imposing a state of rebellion and subsequently issue another order “lifting” it.

This leaves us in a state of confusion. By definition alone, a rebellion is ordered or carried out not by the government or the President, but by some forces outside or against the government.

* * *

THE President did not order the “imposition” of the recent “state of rebellion.” As we’ve pointed out, ordering or staging a rebellion is the handiwork of anti-government forces.

The President, if she wants, simply recognizes the situation and declares that there is an ongoing rebellion.

Now if the President last May 1 could not have ordered or imposed the rebellion, how could she have called it off or ordered its lifting the other day as reported in some news stories?

From where we sat in the province, we saw the President as merely informing the nation the other day that the rebellion was over — either it has dissipated or has been defeated.

* * *

AT this point, we want to thank all those who helped our family and condoled with us before and after my 96-year-old mother Leonila (Ima Liling) died last Wednesday after three weeks in the hospital.

It was an exhausting episode, not only for the family but also for friends in Manila who took time to motor all the way to Mabalacat, braving the hazards of the North Luzon Expressway, to condole with us.

We received some email from worried readers who asked why Postscript  vanished. Sorry, but we were simply tied up and had no time to write a column or insert an explanation on this space.

* * *

SENATOR-in-hiding Gringo Honasan was reported yesterday to have questioned before the Supreme Court the legality of the President’s declaration of a “state of rebellion” by way of also challenging the legality of the order for his arrest on rebellion charges.

Instead of sending his lawyer to argue for him, Honasan should be man enough to show up in court personally, face his accusers and clear himself. Why is he scared?

Pistol-packing Sen. Miriam Santiago, who stayed home to wait for the arresting sheriff, if any, appears more macho than the mustachioed colonel who led several failed coup d’etat during the Cory Aquino administration.

The public should be reminded that Gringo set back by at least 10 years the nation that was then just emerging from the dark years of martial rule.

How do we resurrect those who were killed, ease the grief of their families, salve the wounds, and repair the damage wrought by those coup attempts of Gringo?

* * *

AS for his petition, we wonder where Gringo got the notion that it is illegal for the President to inform the nation when there is a “state of rebellion” or that there is an ongoing rebellion.

Apparently, Gringo wanted the President to hide under the bed and not tell the people when a rebellious mob surged to Mendiola St. and other approaches to Malacañang days ago with the obvious intention of storming the government’s seat of power.

Maybe his idea that the President must not talk about an ongoing state of rebellion stems from his strange concept of peace as bannered in his “Para sa Kapayapaan” (For Peace) campaign slogan. Is hiding from the law also part of his notion of peace?

* * *

THERE were some fuzzy news items and commentaries days ago focusing on former President Erap Estrada’s addressing GMA as the “President” when she visited him at his detention cottage in Laguna.

This intriguing detail of protocol unnecessarily caused wild speculation that Erap was finally recognizing GMA as the President. Poor Erap had to explain that his stand was still that he is a President-on-leave and that GMA is acting President.

This type of story sees print when those reporting events fail to note certain nuances of protocol and official conduct.

* * *

CAN you imagine Erap welcoming GMA with “Good morning, Mrs. Acting President.”? Whatever you think of him, Erap know his protocol.

Let’s just call it plain good manners and right conduct.

Or imagine GMA greeting Erap with “Good morning, Mr. Former President.”

That’s not the way it is done in polite society.

* * *

PURSUING the point… When you meet at a social gathering various generals (brigadier, major and lieutenant generals) and colonels (lieutenant colonels and full colonels), you address all the generals simply as “general,” and all the colonels as “colonel” without distinction.

If there is a former senator in the crowd, you don’t walk up to him and greet him “Hi, former senator!” He is simply “Senator So-and-so.”

All justices (from the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan, retired or still sitting) are addressed as “Justices,” except for the Chief Justice for whom the title of “Chief Justice” is reserved.

Playing safe, you address all judges (whatever level, whether retired or not) as “Judge”…

* * *

IN Quezon City, meanwhile, the alleged plunder by Erap Estrada and his ignominious fall continue to wreak havoc on the candidacies of showbiz personalities who have no political capital except their supposed popularity.

For instance, movie actor Rudy Fernandez who is running for QC mayor, has been skidding in the poll surveys. Analysts attribute this to the actor’s lack of solid qualification to hold an important public office and the fallout from Erap’s disgraceful ouster.

It appears that this is not the year for movie stars and pretenders from flickerville.

* * *

SPEAKER Sonny Belmonte, the administration candidate for Quezon City mayor, continues to widen his lead in the surveys as the campaign moves into the homestretch.

Residents looking for a seasoned manager who can resurrect the city and push its rational development said that they see no one among the mayoral candidates except Belmonte who can do the tough job.

* * *

WE haven’t seen the evidence against Juan Ponce Enrile, Miriam Santiago, Gringo Honasan and Panfilo Lacson, who are facing rebellion charges in connection with the failed storming of the Palace last May 1.

All of them happen to be running for senator under the ticket being endorsed by former President Estrada. None of them is detained at the moment.

Going by our experience with our politicians and our justice system, we dare say at this point that none of them will be found guilty.

Without meaning to impute guilt or innocence, we predict that the charges will just be kicked around until election day, which is just a short week away, then forgotten, followed by either the charges being dropped or the accused being acquitted.

* * *

ISN’T this harassment? Whatever it is, it is part and parcel of our brand of political warfare. The four accused themselves know this tactic, and while they appear to be fighting it, they understand it.

If the shoe were on the other foot, meaning if the four accused were the ones in power, it would not be surprising to see them or their party doing the same thing to their political enemies.

The general idea is to keep the enemy tied up nicely in legal ribbons during the campaign.

We repeat: We’re not saying that the four accused — Enrile, Santiago, Honasan and Lacson — are innocent of the charges and are victims of political harassment. We’re just advancing what we think could happen to their cases.

* * *

THE probability of their being ultimately cleared is not part of an ongoing campaign of GMA to spread presidential cheer and goodwill all around, especially among those involved in or affected by the rebellion.

GMA’s recent visit to Erap in detention was the first significant sporting gesture we saw after Mendiola. It was a grand move that contributed immensely to defusing the explosive situation.

This was followed by visits to hospital wards where the wounded from the Mendiola battle, including Erap partisans, had been taken. Of course, the President also visited and commended the soldiers, the policemen and the units that defended Malacañang and routed the rebels.

This political mopping up, which includes reaching out to the poor who were used by the plotters of the recent rebellion, is earning GMA heaps of positive points.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 8, 2001)

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