POSTSCRIPT / January 22, 2002 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Ramos wants to help? Make him Power Czar!

TYING LOOSE ENDS: Former President Fidel V. Ramos seems to have all the smart answers to whatever afflicts this benighted nation. Maybe he can tell us why the emergency powers given him to lick the power crisis during his term have not been able to forestall these recurring blackouts.

In fact, some of his supposed solutions to the power crisis — such as those overpriced yet substandard power generators he installed in his home province of Pangasinan — have become part of the problem.

If the doting Ramos is intent on helping President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, as he seems to imply by his omnipresence, maybe he should be appointed Power Czar so he could plug the holes he missed during his watch.

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PEREZ’S SLIP SHOWING: Energy Secretary Vincent Perez also tripped after power drained out yesterday from most of Luzon in another crippling blackout.

Explaining over the radio the reported snapping of the electric cables in Tayabas that triggered the blackout, Perez suddenly remarked that the service interruption underscored the urgent need for privatizing the transmission phase of the power system of the National Power Corp.

The priority of the moment was to restore full power on Luzon with the least delay. Why was Perez more engrossed with the juicy prospects of selling off part of the Napocor system? Why did he have to snatch the blackout as excuse to press Napocor’s privatization?

Are some interested parties pressing the promised delivery of a chopped-up Napocor?

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NO EDSA TRES: We agree with former President Ramos that there was no EDSA III on May 1 last year when agitated fans of deposed President Erap Estrada trooped to Mendiola St. and tried to rush the Palace.

But who are we, or even FVR, to say if a people’s march from the EDSA shrine should be conferred the name EDSA III or EDSA IV, et cetera? For the present, it is all a matter of opinion; and over time, a verdict of history.

The crucial criterion of EDSA, we think, is whether or not a people’s march achieves its objective of removing the sitting president. EDSA I toppled Ferdinand E. Marcos and EDSA II forced Erap Estrada to resign. The dubious EDSA III failed to remove GMA.

That failure is enough reason for not conferring it the label EDSA III.

(The Erap fans making trouble on Mendiola that May day should have scampered with the arrival of the massed supporters of GMA, but they did not want to leave because they had not been given their allowance for the day. It seems the moneybag had run off with the moolah.)

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MORE QUESTIONS: Have you wondered how many warm bodies must be mustered to produce People Power? Is a crowd of one million enough to force out a president who was elected to office by more than 10 million voters? If not, how big should the crowd be, and how should it behave, to go down in history as People Power?

Looking at past EDSAs and the failed attempts to replicate the original 1986 People Power revolt, we note that although size matters, the legitimacy of a mass rally is conferred, ironically, by the response of the targeted president — and the legitimizing fact of success.

If Marcos were up and about at the time and ordered his troops to crush the EDSA revolt in 1986, and succeeded, we would not have what is now recorded as EDSA I.

If Estrada did not slink away and instead fought back and stayed put, the throng at EDSA then would not have been dubbed as EDSA II and GMA would still be a mere vice president.

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WINNER WRITES HISTORY: The crowd’s volume and vehemence help. But even if those who marched on EDSA last year to demand Estrada’s ouster were a mere 99,000, if he shuddered and surrendered (as he actually did), it would still be tagged as EDSA II. Because the targeted president bowed to the crowd.

In contrast, the march of Erap fans on Mendiola in May last year cannot claim the name EDSA III, because government and pro-GMA forces fought back and President Arroyo successfully defended her position.

On the other hand, had the Mendiola march succeeded in scaring and removing GMA and putting back Erap, it would now be remembered as EDSA III.

Of course there are corollary factors — such as the play of military-police forces and the involvement of the Church, among other things — but in the final analysis the defining element is the success of the uprising in forcing out the incumbent president. The winner writes the history of his victory and decides what to call himself.

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B.S. DROPS NAME: Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo might be interested to know that a former consultant of the Government Service Insurance System is telling everybody who cares to listen that he would soon be installed GSIS president on the say-so of the Little President.

The fellow (let’s call him BS in the meantime) boasts that with his alleged closeness to Romulo, any juicy vacancy in any government-controlled corporation is his for the asking. We wonder what the Executive Secretary actually promised his friend BS, if he did at all.

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CHECK ‘EM OUT: Those who wonder how the US troops coming over to help wipe out the Abu Sayyaf look in the flesh can drop by Subic or Clark before the servicemen are flown to Mindanao.

On Clark Field , the former base of the US 13th Air Force that grew out of the US Cavalry’s Fort Stotsenberg in Mabalacat town, visitors can chance upon the GIs eating burgers at the local McDonald’s during their free time.

Dressed in casual civvies and lugging shoulder bags, they come around in small groups and keep to themselves while eating out. They are well-built and young, but basically regular guys. The ones we saw, btw, could just be logistics or support personnel, not Rambo types.

Do they stray to Balibago in the evening for the presumed night life? We haven’t checked, but we’re almost sure they are confined to base.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 22, 2002)

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