POSTSCRIPT / October 14, 2003 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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MJ didn’t give Ping original Pidal checks?

NO MJ CHECKS: In his privilege speech yesterday, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson mentioned among other items a supposed donation covered by a check of Manila congressman Mark Jimenez to a foundation identified with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

We were straining to catch the details but failed to see Lacson submitting any original check to support his allegation.

We mention this, because persons close to Jimenez have told us that during Lacson’s last trip to the US ostensibly in search of evidence, he went to Jimenez in Florida three times to ask for the originals of the MJ checks and convince him to make a deposition.

Jimenez, awaiting sentencing for some prohibited acts related to his US election contributions, reportedly declined to give Lacson the original cancelled checks and did not make a deposition.

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WHERE WERE YOU?: In Florida, Jimenez reportedly asked Lacson the equivalent of “Where were all of you, when I was in trouble?”

Indeed where were his alleged friends, except for two congressmen who kept him company, when US officials, particularly an overbearing FBI agent, took away his passport and personal effects before bundling up the congressman on an American airliner?

The FBI man strapped Jimenez to the last seat of the plane, reportedly depriving him of his medications, and took him on a circuitous route so he would miss his Friday bail hearing in Florida and spend the weekend in jail.

Jimenez holds pieces of evidence, including cancelled checks, that are potentially damaging to the Arroyo couple. But he strikes us as preferring to hold his silence while awaiting sentencing, set in Florida this week.

He has pleaded guilty to some offenses in a plea-bargaining bid. Depending on how things turn out, it is possible that he would be free to go home before Christmas.

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CLEANUP COSTS: The usual noisy kibitzers are complaining that we are spending several millions for cleaning the neighborhood and beefing up security for the coming visit of US President George W. Bush.

Of course we will have to spend quite a sum for sprucing up the places that Mr. Bush will visit (for example the Batasan) because we have not attended to the upkeep of these places and will now have to spend for those years of neglect.

As for security, ensuring the safety of somebody like the President of the United States will naturally be more complicated, more demanding and more expensive.

But like the regular Pinoy preparing his home for the fiesta or the visit of an esteemed friend, the Philippine government is rushing preparations and is spending in the process. This is normal and nothing to bitch about.

As hosts, we want to make Bush’s visit as pleasant and as safe as possible. When our President visits the US, they also look after her. In this world, such reciprocal courtesies and amenities are expected.

As for a threat to harass Bush during his visit, this is just the noisy minority screaming in tandem with the left. By and large, despite the occasional irritants, Filipinos are great friends of Americans.

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AWAIT FULL REPORT: Noise is also being generated by the reported gunslaying of Indonesian terrorist Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi in Cotabato last Sunday night.

Many people who heard the first sketchy reports of the shooting of Al-Ghozi have already concluded that the terrorist was executed to create a big story to drown out the third chapter of the Lacson expose in the Senate.

It is best to wait for the full police report before jumping to conclusions. Let us give the authorities the benefit of the doubt and presume regularity in the performance of their duties.

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MESSY SHOOTOUTS: Director General Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Philippine National Police chief, said the pursuit operations have been ongoing relentlessly from the day Al-Ghozi escaped from the detention center in Camp Crame last July 14.

It was expected that the police-military teams pursuing Al-Ghozi would catch up with him sooner or later. When they cornered him last Sunday in Cotabato and he resisted, do not expect the police to hold back just because Lacson was about to deliver a speech in Manila.

A shootout is always messy. Even for experienced lawmen, it is never a picnic. Many of them have been killed by resisting outlaws.

When our police corner and get their quarry, let us show our appreciation for their accomplishment.

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APOLOGIA: To those who read our Oct. 12 Postscript in the website or in the printed PhilSTAR newspaper, we apologize for a mangled paragraph mentioning businessman Eduardo Cojuangco’s claiming ownership of questioned San Miguel Corp. shares. We again advise confused readers to check with this site,, for the correct version.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 14, 2003)

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