POSTSCRIPT / August 7, 2003 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Hi-tech ‘Tomb Raider’ gear used in Oakwood

TAKING AFTER LARA: (This is not an ad.) Go and see “Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.” Note the high-tech gear that Lara Croft uses as she pursues all over the globe a syndicate obsessed with seizing the original Pandora’s Box and using it for an evil plan.

Lara (Angelina Jolie) uses a Panasonic SV-A30 multi-function movie camera. The tiny digicam is connected to a headphone with a rectangular monocle-like glass pane propped before her left eye.

That gear connects Lara to her base, live in real time. Whatever the camera catches is transmitted around the globe to base, where another camera is set up. The image captured at base (such as the person talking with Lara) is transmitted in real time and is seen by her on the pane (tiny monitor) hanging about an inch in front of her eye.

The advanced audio-video system makes possible a more sophisticated form of teleconferencing (with other units installed at other sites), or a live monitoring and directing of a combat operation from a central base.

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EXOTIC GEAR: We mention this “Tomb Raider” item, because we saw such high-tech AV-gear being used by one of the rebel officers caught on TV at the Oakwood incident in Makati the other Sunday. The lightly opaque pane before his left eye gave it away.

Now, where or how will a low-salaried and supposedly ill-equipped soldier get such exotic equipment? That was not the only high-tech gear brought by the rebels. The officers were also toting satellite phones and other sophisticated equipment not available in the AFP arsenal.

They also brought, without authority, some of the modern combat gadgets that the US military had given them as members of the AFP special forces that trained and fought in Muslim Mindanao.

When soldiers mount a coup d’etat, they generally take up their government-issued weapons and rise against the state. But the Oakwood contingent flaunted materiel that ordinary soldiers can only dream of.

This point alone indicates that the soldiers were not acting on their own, but were moving in conspiracy with a well-financed civilian component.

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BAD EXAMPLE: By hiding and refusing to face the charges being developed against him, Sen. Gregorio Honasan is setting a bad example to us plain folk, especially to the youth.

As almost everybody has been saying, and we don’t mind repeating it: If Honasan is indeed innocent, as he claims to be, he should confront his accusers right off and give them hell.

His running away from due process is either cowardice, an admission of guilt, or an unfortunate declaration that he has lost faith in the system. In the third case, he should resign his Senate seat, stop drawing his salary, give up his perks — and then, if he so desires, stay underground.

Reader ArchieP pointed out in an email: While it used to be that when one decides to wage rebellion, he ran to the hills, nowadays, rebels avail themselves of the cool comfort of five-star hotels.

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UNDUE HASTE?: Another reader, lawyer Edwin Lacierda, clarified our comment in the last Postscript on the arrest of Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho Olivarez that “once the prosecutor files the information in court, it is pro-forma for the judge to issue a warrant.”

He said: “Under the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 112, Section 6, provides that within 10 days from the filing of an information, a judge is required to personally evaluate the fiscal’s (prosecutor’s) resolution and determine for himself the existence of probable cause. If he so believes, then that is the only time he issues a warrant of arrest. This is in line with the 1987 constitutional mandate that judges should make a personal determination of probable cause.”

Another lawyer, Alexsandra Jordan, sent the text of said rule: “Sec. 6 — When warrant of arrest may issue. -­ (a) By the Regional Trial Court. — Within ten (10) days from the filing of the complaint or information, the judge shall personally evaluate the resolution of the prosecutor and its supporting evidence. He may immediately dismiss the case if the evidence on record clearly fails to establish probable cause. If he finds probable cause, he shall issue a warrant of arrest, or a commitment order if the accused has already been arrested pursuant to a warrant issued by the judge who conducted the preliminary investigation or when the complaint or information was filed pursuant to section 7 of this Rule. In case of doubt on the existence of probable cause, the judge may order the prosecutor to present additional evidence within five (5) days from notice and the issue must be resolved by the court within thirty (30) days from the filing of the complaint or information.”

She added that this lent credence to the claim of Ninez that there was undue haste in the issuance of an arrest warrant against her based on criminal libel charges filed by a lawyer of President Arroyo.

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BUSINESS TALKS: Lawmakers teeter on a huge wave on the question of whether or not to proceed with congressional inquiries into the failed coup d’etat of July 27. For guidance, they might find useful the collective voice of the business community aired yesterday.

The Makati Business Club (MBC), Financial Executives Institute of the Phils. (Finex), Philippine Computer Society (PCS), Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI), Chinese-Filipino Business Club (CFBC), and the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference for Human Development (BBC) urge Congress to suspend its investigations into the coup attempt.

The influential business bloc also urged Congress to let the so-called Feliciano Commission to carry out its mandate to look into the coup and the situation that led to it.

The Commission, formed by President Arroyo include retired Supreme Court Justice Florentino Feliciano (chairman), retired Supreme Court Justice Minerva Gonzaga-Reyes, UP political science professor Dr. Carolina Hernandez, Ateneo Law Dean Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, retired Commodore Rex Robles, and retired Air Force Capt. Roland Narciso.

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AVOIDING CONFLICTS: The business community said that “rather than for the Senate and House to pursue their own separate investigations and following the precedent of the Davide Commission, we suggest that Congress consider enacting a law empowering the Feliciano Commission to investigate the causes of and to determine the persons responsible for the recent mutiny.”

The businessmen recalled the comment of the Supreme Court in Bengzon vs Senate Blue Ribbon Committee:

“To allow the respondent Committee to conduct its own investigation of an issue already before the Sandiganbayan would not only pose the possibility of conflicting judgments between a legislative committee and a judicial tribunal, but if the Committee’s judgment were to be reached before that of the Sandiganbayan, the possibility of its influence being made to bear on the ultimate judgment of the Sandiganbayan cannot be discounted.”

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COSTLY BUREAUCRACY: Add to your database these budget figures sent by Sen. Ralph G. Recto, who said that from P76.9 billion 10 years ago, the government payroll reach P286.4 billion in 2004. Each of us Filipinos will have to cough up P3,492 per year to support one government employee.

He said the national government payroll will reach P286.4 billion next year, up by P10.4 billion from the current year’s level of P276 billion. It will cost taxpayers P785 million a day to pay for the wages of 1,075,011 workers in the bureaucracy.

Some P33 of every P100 in the proposed P864.8-billion 2004 budget, or a total of P286.4 billion, will be used to pay the basic salary and 18 types of allowances, honoraria and pension -­ collectively called “personal services” in the budget.

Recto noted that the proposed government payroll for 2004 is three-and-half times than what was spent for salaries 10 years ago which was only P76.9 billion.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 7, 2003)

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