POSTSCRIPT / February 24, 2004 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Poe admits his birth papers may be bogus

BIGGEST RALLY EVER: Whether the multitude that flocked to the Rizal Park for the rally of evangelist Eddie Villanueva was two or one million, or much less, the point to remember is that it was not a “hakot” (hauled) crowd.

Those who went to Villanueva’s rally last Sunday did it on their own. There was no compulsion nor promise of reward. That fact alone should give not only his rivals but also the rest of the public some food for thought.

Villanueva enters the presidential arena at a time when the public fed up with traditional politicians is looking for alternatives. Actor Fernando Poe Jr., who first appeared to fill that role, now has to contend with Villanueva.

The problem of the evangelist is how to multiply himself so his message of pagbabago (reform, transformation) can reach at least 10 million voters before May 10.

But those who still have faith in Divine Providence say that it will happen if it is God’s will.

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ALAY KAPWA: By coincidence, “pagbabago” is also the theme of Alay Kapwa (AK 2004), the Lenten campaign of the Catholic Church set for launching Feb. 27 in Antipolo.

The National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and Peace, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said AK 2004 emphasizes the role of the poor as “agents of social transformation.”

The campaign theme is “Kapangyarihan ng Mahihirap ang Magbabago sa Pamahalaan,”  which NASSA said “finds deeper relevance given the country’s political and economic situation.”

Archbishop Fernando Capalla, CBCP president, challenged the poor to lead “the current national movement of bringing reconciliation to our divided land and healing the wounded hearts of our people and our families by becoming channels of forgiveness and healing.”

“If people in government are still the politicians who squander the resources of our country,” he said, “then it is about time that we chose people who have open hearts and minds for reconciliation and conversion.”

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TIME OUT MUNA: Meantime, presidential candidate Poe looks like he needs a long break from his hectic campaign to collect his thoughts so he could be at least coherent in his public statements.

Sensing from the headlines that the amici (friends) of the Supreme Court appeared to be on his side as a natural-born Filipino, Poe asked for a quick decision. Much like a boxer going for the kill upon seeing blood oozing from his opponent’s head cut.

But apparently bothered by the documents he has been bandying around, Poe has confessed off-court that he was not sure the birth certificate he had submitted to the Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court was genuine or correct.

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BOGUS PAPERS?: What’s going on? If the documents upon which the Supreme Court is being asked to render a decision could be fraudulent — according to the very person who submitted them — how can the tribunal render a correct decision?

The Supreme Court does not rule on the authenticity of documents or evidence. It only looks into the correct application of the law. If there is need to review facts or evidence, the tribunal remands the case to a lower court for that chore.

But then, Poe’s moves make sense. A party relying on false documents must stampede the court into making a decision while a good impression lingers and before the court discovers the fraud.

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MENTAL INDIGESTION: Poe also needs a vacation to absorb the tons of instant knowledge that his tutors have pre-digested for spoon-feeding to the high school dropout who desperately wants to become president in three months.

Follow the actor’s schedule as reported in the papers. Every day you read about him and see pictures of him busy campaigning from morning till evening.

When will he ever have time to rest and sit down to read the books and voluminous briefing papers that his tutors have prepared? Assuming he is finally able to settle down long enough, can he absorb it all?

Even full-time students with respectable IQs need years to learn all that heavy stuff. Are his handlers keeping a secret — that the 64-year-old actor is a super genius with a brain as absorbent as a sponge?

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NOT THE REGISTRAR: Re his birth certificate about whose authenticity Poe has expressed doubts, since he was the one who produced it before the Comelec, he must be responsible for it.

We see no reason why the civil registrar who had issued the certificate to Poe should, on his own, put false entries into it or manufacture it en toto. This is assuming that Poe really got it from a civil registrar.

In a case like that, the presumption is that the beneficiary or the person presenting the document falsified it himself.

Now what would such a person do to prepare his defense, if there is a likelihood of his being caught having used a fraudulent document?

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REMANDING POSSIBLE: This revelation of Poe himself could lead to the remanding of the case to the Comelec, where it was first filed, so the poll body could check the documents and related facts.

Such development could delay the final resolution of the citizenship case. Earlier, Supreme Court officials said a decision could be handed down by the tribunal as early as middle of March.

Another possible complication is a plan of Poe’s lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, to submit to the high court military documents showing, he said, that the senior Fernando Pou had acknowledged Ronnie Allan (real name of Fernando Poe Jr.) as his son.

Mendoza also said earlier that he had unearthed a document showing that Poe’s mother was not American but a Filipino.

There could be another legal skirmish over these additional documents being brought out only now. This could give the Supreme Court more reason to send the case back to the Comelec or to some lower court.

* * *

U.S. PARALLEL: In Washington, DC, meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California spoke in favor of easing the rule under the US Constitution that only natural-born Americans may run for president.

The Austrian-born actor, in the capital for a meeting with fellow governors, said anyone who has been a US citizen for at least 20 years — as he has — should be able to run for president.

A constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Republican like Schwarzenegger, would make that possible.

“There are so many people in this country that are now from overseas, that are immigrants,” he said, “that are doing such a terrific job with their work, bringing businesses here, that there’s no reason why not.”

“Look at the kind of contribution that people like Henry Kissinger have made, Madeleine Albright,” he said. The two former state secretaries were born in Europe.

But the actor said he has not thought of running for president, adding that he already has his hands full grappling with problems in California.

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MANILA RECORD: Reader Jason Morente called our attention to an item here saying that Manila failed in its bid last Feb. 14 to break the world record for the most number of people kissing in the same site at the same time.

He said the Manila record of 5,122 was for couples, which translated to 10,244 persons (5,122 x 2). The previous records were: Canada’s 3,176 people (1,588 couples), and Chile’s 8,890 people (4,445 couples).

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 24, 2004)

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