POSTSCRIPT / February 5, 2004 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Have all ‘nuisance’ bets file test suits before SC

TEST CASE BEFORE S.C.: To test the legal theory that only the Supreme Court may hear pre-campaign disqualification cases against presidential candidates, have all persons disqualified as “nuisance” candidates file suit before the high court.

The debate over where to file disqualification cases at this stage arose from a petition for the Commission on Elections to disqualify presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. for not being a natural-born Filipino.

Note that the disqualified “nuisance” bets are only would-be candidates and not yet presidents-elect whose proclamation is under challenge before the Supreme Court sitting as an electoral tribunal.

The petitioners, possibly including brothers Andresito and Victorino Fornier questioning Poe’s citizenship, are likely to be told by the high court to go back to the Comelec and exhaust all administrative remedies first.

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COMELEC INCOMPETENCE: We wonder, btw, what the Comelec commissioners meant when they recently dismissed the Fornier petition because, they said, it lacked merit and they (the commissioners) were not competent to rule on it.

Were they saying that the Comelec was not competent in that it was not the proper forum or that they did not have the intellectual competence to decide the tricky question?

With the retirement of two of the six commissioners and the possible absence or abstention of some of them, they may not only lack competence but also the number to muster a majority decision on the Poe case.

But still, we think that it is legal timidity, if not lack of judicial courage, for the Comelec to first wait for the Supreme Court to speak on the disqualification petition filed before the tribunal before they rule on the case.

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NONPARTISAN VS BIPARTISAN: With the impending appointment of replacements for the two retired commissioners, some quarters are saying that, to be fair, the incoming duo should be split between the administration and the opposition.

From one corner we also heard comments that the Comelec may find it useful to have a new commissioner with management savvy so as to help steer the poll body from the administrative minefields ahead.

But the Comelec was never envisioned under the Constitution to be a bipartisan body. It has been ordained to be non-partisan, not bipartisan.

In other words, the commission should not be divided into two coequal political camps. It must be one cohesive nonpartisan body with one mission.

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UNFAIR SUSPICION: The Constitution says that the six members and the chairman should be natural-born (that term again!) citizens at least 35 years of age, holders of a college degree (dropouts not allowed), and have not been candidates for any elective positions in the immediately preceding elections.

The charter says further that a majority of the members, including the chairman, must be “members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least 10 years.”

Nothing is said about management skills. Also, no explanation is given that membership in the bar does not refer to one’s drinking habits.

One problem of the new appointees is that however mightily they disavow partisan bias, they would be suspect (unfairly, we say) since they would be appointed by a President who is running in an election supervised by the Comelec.

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ROCO BLACKED OUT: The election campaign has not started officially, yet rabid partisans of the candidates are already overacting.

At the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, where presidential candidate Raul Roco was invited Tuesday to speak before the students, the media were barred from covering the convocation reportedly on “orders from above.”

Since the Pamantasan is a public school under City Hall, Mayor Lito Atienza who is running for reelection under the ticket of President Arroyo will have some explaining to do.

Lawyer Mel “Batas” Mauricio, who hosts a popular free legal assistance programs on TV Channel 7 and radio station dzBB, deplored the incident as a “violation of the academic freedom enjoyed by state universities and an arrogant disregard of the freedom of the press to cover a public event.”

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FISHING SORTIE: One does not have to be a mind-reader to know that political harassment is the motive behind the resumption of the Jose Pidal inquiry by Senate committees headed by Senators Edgardo Angara and Sergio Osmena.

How can the senators honestly say they are in search of information in aid of new legislation when they cannot even attend to vital legislation already pending before the chamber?

The opposition is just scrounging around for ways to discredit First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and his brother Ignacio and, through them, President Arroyo. Ignacio earlier said he was the “Jose Pidal” who held bank accounts questioned in a Senate inquiry.

It may not be fair to tie up Ignacio in a hearing in Metro Manila while he is running for a congressional seat in his district in the Visayas. Unfortunately for him, anything goes in Philippine politics.

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VIRUS ATTACK: Like most habitués of the worldwide web, we have been receiving our overdose of viruses, including the latest MyDoom variety. Our incoming email, normally averaging 150 per day, has doubled — the extra baggage being nothing but viruses!

Fortunately for us, our Norton shield and the anti-virus screening service of our ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have been efficient. We usually end up just thrashing the carcasses of the viruses after Norton and our ISPs had neutralized them.

Not all anti-virus software are effective. We advise users to install software that have live-update features.

Various viruses are let loose in cyberspace now and then and if your anti-virus software is not up-to-date, it cannot recognize and block the new virus patterns. Live-update automatically downloads the latest patterns to your computer whenever it is connected to the Internet.

Caution also dictates that as much as possible, attachments and executable files (files ending in “.exe”) should not be opened since they are the usual vehicle used in virus attacks.

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MYDOOM NUISANCE: It is not yet popular in this country dominated by Microsoft’s Windows operating system and MS Office software package, but it is a good idea shifting to other free systems such as Linux and equivalent non-Microsoft programs.

For some reason, most virus creators aim their arrows against the Microsoft giant. This explains why Microsoft programs are the most vulnerable to virus attacks.

But Microsoft appeared yesterday to have survived the worst attack of the MyDoom.B worm. The virus, a variant of MyDoom.A that had swamped another company’s website, sent waves of harmful data at the Microsoft site, but the target apparently survived.

The MyDoom.A virus, spreading with frightening progressive speed, has infected over one million computers worldwide. It generates wild spam emails and cripples email servers.

In our case, with our computer still running (or limping on?), the MyDoom virus is actually more of a nuisance like some candidates since we have to waste time thrashing what is left of it after Norton and our ISPs do their job.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 5, 2004)

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