POSTSCRIPT / November 30, 2003 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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FPJ is heaven-sent with urgent message

HEAVEN-SENT: Some optimists may be willing to clutch the straw that perhaps the candidacy of Fernando Poe Jr. is heaven-sent.

The actor’s running for the highest post in the land could just be the answer to our prayer for someone to come along, not necessarily on a white horse, and jolt this country back to its senses.

Seeing another character from tinseltown poised to snatch the presidency after another actor before him nearly drove the nation over the cliff may just prove too much for people groping for deliverance from misgovernment.

The specter of double jeopardy in the presidency is scaring citizens from their complacency.

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PROXY WAR: We have seen signs among citizens who previously did not show any interest in elections now checking the validation of their registration and talking about not committing the same mistake twice.

The middle class, for one, appears agitated over the prospects of Da King triumphantly gliding across the finish line in May 2004 without effort. Many are not just preparing to vote; they are campaigning against Poe.

The scenario before us is not as simple as one man being moved by pure desire to help his country by responding to a clamor for him to be its president. It’s not him alone. It’s them!

Poe is actually fighting a proxy war. Even his most ardent supporters boast that when (not if) their idol is installed in Malacanang, he won’t be running state affairs by his lonesome.

They make no bones about the novice president, more of a ceremonial figure than a hands-on head of government, being surrounded by advisers and runners who would make things happen for him. To many, that is the scary part.

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ANGARA’S AGENDA: In the same breath that they ask why Poe presumes to run despite his obvious lack of preparation, curious onlookers also ask why Sen. Edgardo Angara, of all people, is pushing the actor’s candidacy.

The senior senator’s agenda becomes understandable when viewed in the light of efforts to cast a “blockbuster” tandem of Poe taking the hand of popular broadcaster Sen. Loren Legarda as his vice president.

The victory of Poe and Legarda, a pretty sight for the shrieking fans, would be a personal double victory for Angara, and whoever else he has lurking in his shadow.

Angara must have realized from a series of political setbacks that, although he is eminently qualified, he himself cannot be president. So, if one cannot be king, why not try being kingmaker?

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WHAT ABOUT DA BOSS?: The kingmaker title used to be that of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, chairman of San Miguel and moving spirit of many other businesses that drew sustenance from the multi-billion-peso coconut levy fund.

For a while, Cojuangco toyed with the idea of himself running for president. But after a series of legal setbacks that drew holes into his finances, many of his supposed supporters slinked away.

Abandoned by the parasites, Cojuangco’s following dwindled. The old line then suggested itself: If the Boss cannot be king himself, why not be kingmaker as he used to be?

This line has given rise to reports (rumors to some) that Cojuangco has transferred, or at least promised, a huge amount to Poe to bankroll his presidential campaign. (In fairness to the two gentlemen, no proof of any such transaction has been offered except whispered reports kuno of bank insiders.)

An interesting game now is to find the link between Angara and Cojuangco through their common denominator Poe.

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MARKET MYTH: The day after we said that naughty operators in the stock exchange may just play with the FPJ confirmation of his candidacy last Wednesday and make the stocks dive, they did!

Along the same line on the dropping of the exchange value of the peso, Dr. Benjamin Espiritu of La Salle said yesterday that “it is not accurate to place the blame of the drop of the peso squarely on the presidential bid of Fernando Poe Jr.”

Espiritu, chairman of the Business and Governance Department of De La Salle University Professional Schools Inc. and Graduate School of Business, described as “simplistic and perhaps politically motivated” comments pinning on Poe the peso’s drop.

The peso-dollar exchange rate is a price, he said, and is determined like all prices by demand and supply.

“The demand for dollars comes from the dollar requirements of government, importers, corporations and individuals,” he said. “The supply comes from dollar inflows, deposit earnings and remittances to the country. These are all economic, not political, variables.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 30, 2003)

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