POSTSCRIPT / December 21, 2003 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Who’s this Lord who can stop Bro. Eddie’s running?

WHY HE’S RUNNING: The papers say evangelist Eddie C. Villanueva (ECV) of the Jesus is Lord movement is running for president, quoting him as saying that only God could make him change his mind.

How come Bro. Eddie is suddenly in the running? To help answer that question, we share this report from the Internet. Although we still don’t know how accurate it is, our newsman’s instinct tells us it has some basis.

We will not indicate original authorship (the initials MST should suffice at this point) as it has gone through several forwarding and, in our hands, a little editing:

“Last August nagkaroon ng Rest and Recreation ang mga bishops sa Subic, c/o a resort owner there that begged Ptr. Leo Alconga to have the bishops R&R in his resort (for free).

“A certain head Pastor of Word International namely Gus Lising (who in the past had not joined in any activity that the Body of Christ sponsored) decided to talk to ECV for a counseling and a time of fellowship and so ECV invited him to come to the bishops’ R&R.

“The R&R was a success, ang daming umattend (syempre libre e). During the evening fellowship, they decided to talk about whom to support in the 2004 elections. Guess what — ang manok ni ECV eh si Fernando Poe Jr.! (kasi daw ala pang papel na kontra-bida si FPJ kaya maaari daw na dalhin niya na ang kanyang mga roles sa tunay na buhay).

“So nag-uusap sila, si Bishop Leo kay Ping Lacson si Bishop Fred kay Raul Roco. Sa madaling salita naghahanap sila ng lesser evil na kandidato.

“You won’t believe this, but during the discussion nag may-I-go-out si ECV, puntang CR. While he was gone, patuloy pa rin ang mga bishops sa discussion, then out of nowhere si Gus Lising stood up and asked everybody ‘Puro lesser evil na lang ba? Ala bang righteous na kandidato?’

“Shocked ang mga lolo mo, so asked back nila ‘Sino na ba ang righteous leader candidate?’

“Tumayo uli si Gus and said ‘Si ECV!’ (at the time he said that parang comedy). Nang pabalik na si ECV, he saw his name written on the board kasama sa lineup ng presidentiables.

“In a way nakumbinsi ng mga bishops si Kuya Ed but not without conditions and signs from God.

“With these conditions nagbuo ng group si Gus Lising ng Task Force Pagbabago. Ang purpose nito eh maging campaign hand ni Kuya Ed (in the end), pero sa ngayon eh para masunod yung requirement ni Kuya Ed.

“Kasi sabi ni ECV pag yung conditions niya na-comply puede niyang pag-isipan yung offer.

“First condition, kailangan ng agreement ng Body of Christ. Well, after a week of visitations sa mga churches unanimous ang support, ultimo yung mga taga-Four Square!

“Next condition ay kung ang magiging spokesperson niya eh si (former SEC chairman) Jun Yasay, who at that time was spokesperson na ni Roco) When TFP asked Yasay in a meeting what he thinks if ECV would run for president, and wanted him as spokesperson, he was awestruck and thought very long (around five seconds). He told TFP: ‘If ECV will confirm his candidacy I will resign my post with Roco and will be his spokesperson!’

“The last condition is a spoken word from God.

“ECV was given until the 15th of this month, which was later extended to the 31st, to decide. Lahat na yata ng kausapin ng TFP sumusoporta except one, Cong. Joel Villanueva. Kasi baka emotional lang daw ang mga lolo mong bishop and of course dahil nga nandoon na siya sa political world alam na niya yung merong vested interest.

“Joel was quoted saying ‘I will only agree with the bishops kung galing mismo sa Lord ang idea.’

“Right now, 99.9 percent na tatakbo si Kuya Ed. Kailangan na lang makumbisi yung natitira, si Joel.”

* * *

WHO IS THE LORD?: Bro. Eddie’s running, God willing, will impact on the candidacies of all presidential aspirants, including President Arroyo.

But the more interesting person to watch is Bro. Mike Velarde, who is not exactly palsy-walsy with Bro. Eddie. Mike, incidentally, claims a bigger following and would sniff at Eddie’s flock.

What is simmering between them is more than business rivalry. During the time of then President Ramos, the two evangelists had a bruising tug-o-war for control of Channel 11 that the Elizaldes had to give up.

The supposed Solomonic solution of Mr. Ramos was to have both Mike and Eddie share control of the TV network for their respective evangelical missions.

But one of them was probably smarter and Eddie (the evangelist, not the president) ended up gobbling up Channel 11. Maybe it was just incidental, but it was notable that Bro. Eddie was protestant like President Eddie, while Mike was Catholic.

It is unlikely that Bro. Mike has forgotten this. Besides, as conventional political wisdom has it, while Bro. Eddie is for his benefactor Mr. Ramos, Bro. Mike is still loyal to former President Erap Estrada.

Question: When Bro. Eddie says only the Lord can stop him from running for president, is he referring to his namesake Eddie Ramos?

* * *

NPA CAMPAIGN FEES: The collection by the New People’s Army of safe-conduct fees from candidates who want to campaign in NPA-controlled areas is more than a seasonal extortion spree by the dissidents.

This is a political ploy affirming the CPP-NPA claim that they hold defined territory within the republic. The implication is that they are not armed bands on the run, but a liberation army holding territory, one of the elements of a state.

There is something seriously wrong when the government cannot enforce the law on every square inch of ground in the national territory as defined in the Constitution. Such an erosion of the territorial integrity of the nation is alarming.

The President, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, should make a big show of crushing the dissidents extorting payment from candidates. If she cannot do this, she has no business being president.

The same unusual situation existed in Muslim Mindanao, where secessionist groups such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, held territory where their own flag flies, their own laws apply and where the armed forces feared to tread.

It was a relief to see then President Estrada let loose government troops on the rebels and recover the camps and enclaves of the MILF.

* * *

AMNESTY ALARM: The general amnesty that President Arroyo intends to proclaim with the advice and consent of Congress is not as alarming as it sounds on first impression.

(In the first place, it is doubtful if Congress would agree, or would have time to debate on it and approve it.)

When the President said that the proposed amnesty would cover political crimes, there was an outcry because many people equated that with sweeping under the rug of expediency the crimes of politicians.

An act does not become a political crime just because it was committed by a politician.

Political crimes are such acts as rebellion, sedition and similar activities in pursuit of anti-state ideology. Graft and plunder are not political crimes and (we hope) are not among the political crimes that are supposed to be covered by amnesty.

In the second place, the graft, ill-gotten wealth and plunder charges pending against former top officials are now before the courts and normally beyond the reach of the President under the separation of powers.

With the country going into the election season, President Arroyo’s intention to grant amnesty to political foes smacks of partisan accommodation. It strikes some people as a sign of desperation.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 21, 2003)

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