POSTSCRIPT / January 11, 2004 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Politicos need not go to Quiapo just to pray

WALANG ‘K” BA?: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was ill advised in going to Quiapo Church last Friday to inflict her presence on the sea of devotees of the Black Nazarene.

If any VIP had any “K” (karapatan or right) to show up there, it was her running mate Noli de Castro, a long-time devotee who went barefoot and joined the procession every January 9. He has completed reportedly his nine-year vow (panata) to the Black Christ.

If Ms Arroyo’s intention was only to pray to the Nazarene, she could have prayed somewhere else more conducive to meditation. God is everywhere,di poe ba? She and her guards did not have to disturb the Nazarene scene in a presidential way.

If her intention was to earn votes by a public display of piety and a presence among the masa in Quiapo, we doubt very much if she succeeded. On the contrary….

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‘MASUWERTI KA!’: We beg the indulgence of those who had read this story in Postscript last Sept. 14, 2003, another Sunday. It tells of a candidate who also went to pray to the Nazarene on the eve of Election Day.

This politico, bankrolled by vice operators, was running for city mayor. Going to Quiapo Church, he dipped his fingers into holy water, made the sign of the cross, and dropped a megacheck into the collection box.

Kneeling, he dragged himself on both knees to a side altar where the Nazarene hung from the cross. He looked up the crucified Christ and pleaded: “Lord, ako po’y nananalangin sa Inyo naway magkaroon kami ng kapayapaan at pagkakaisa sa aming bayan. At saka pala, Lord, pakitulungan po Ninyo akong maging mayor ….” (Lord, I pray to You to please grant us peace and unity. And, by the way, Lord, please help me become mayor….)

Believe it or not, Christ cocked his head to eye the politician and said in a voice straight from Cecille B. DeMille’s “Ten Commandments”: “Fulano, maswerte ka….”  (Fulano, you are lucky….)

The startled politician sprang up at the Lord’s lightning response. He rushed out to inform his family and followers of Christ Himself telling him of his good luck!

The next day, Election Day, the count showed that Fulano lost to the incumbent mayor by a convincing 80,000 votes.

In these parts, nobody loses an election; he is just cheated. But deep in his heart Fulano knew that he really lost that one.

He decided to go back to the Nazarene to ask why he lost despite His divine assurance. “Poon, sabi po Ninyo kahapon maswerte ako,” he asked on his knees, “Bakit po tila nawalan ako ng swerte at natalo?”(Lord, You told me yesterday I was lucky. How come it seems bad luck struck and I lost the election?)

Whereupon, the Lord replied in a thunderous voice: “Hoy, Fulano, tumigil ka nga riyan! Sabi ko sayo “maswerte ka…” at kumaripas ka ng takbo. Di mo tuloy narinig ang sinabi ko sayo na “maswerte ka… at nakapako ako sa krus kundi nasipa kita riyan!” (Hey, Fulano, shut up. I started to tell you “You’re lucky…,” but you rushed out and failed to hear the rest of it: “You’re lucky I’m nailed to the cross, otherwise I would have kicked you…!)

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‘E DI AKO NA’: On the matter of Divine Intervention, it seems Bro. Eddie Villanueva of the Jesus Is Lord movement has beaten GMA to it. In filing his own candidacy, the evangelist said that God had told him to run and lead this suffering nation across the desert.

His claim was logical since it used to be that Sister Gloria and the rest of the hopeful (we didn’t say “sinful”) would clamber up Villanueva’s stage for him to bless and pray over.

It did not matter that the hypocrites had gone first to Brother Eddie’s competitor, Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai, for a similar endorsement to Almighty God after they pay a hefty “love offering.” (Ka Roger of the New People’s Army collecting campaign permit fees is a gross amateur compared to big-time Mike.)

The political beeline probably got Brother Eddie entertaining second thoughts. Indeed, why play mediator for these political Pharisees if the evangelist himself could get God’s blessing?

Last we heard, however, this Divine Intervention had been nullified by an earthly Comelec Intervention.

The poll body en banc reportedly invalidated Villanueva’s candidacy, impliedly calling him a nuisance(!) candidate. The majority in Comelec probably did not believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

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WE TOLD YOU SO: Suddenly everybody’s agog about the possible striking down of election computerization, the setting back of preparations, the possible postponement of the May 10 elections and the ensuing confusion, if not bloody civil strife.

We warned about this scary scenario a long time ago, but nobody listened, except for the Commission on Elections whose reaction was mostly to dish out false information, false claims and false hopes about smooth elections coming up on schedule.

Before we get deeper into any discussion, we want to point out that:

  1. The Comelec could have avoided the suit questioning its P1.3-billion contract for the supply of election computers and counting machines had it followed the law and the bidding terms of reference.
  2. The parties questioning the contract are not losing bidders, but concerned taxpayers. The loser could not have gone to court because it had signed a prior undertaking that it would not sue if it lost in the bidding.
  3. The Supreme Court knows what to do, but still we want to underscore the fact that the question before the tribunal is a matter of law and rights. The social and political implications of its ruling should not color the SC’s interpretation of the law.
  4. The Supreme Court should not be blamed for any crisis that could result in case it struck down the contract. The Comelec, being the constitutional body solely responsible for holding elections, should take full blame/credit for whatever happens.

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COMMENTS ON POE: Our comments in the Postscript last Thursday on the personality and qualifications of presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. brought mixed reactions, as expected.

The readers who lambasted us for pointing out some of Poe’s weak points sent fast reactions mostly by email. They must have had access to computers and the Internet and therefore the means to answer right away.

We are tempted to conclude that most of these livid defenders of Poe are partisans and members of the opposition team who are organized and fully equipped to wage a propaganda war.

Coming later, in greater numbers, were those who sent text using their cellphones. Most of them agreed with what we said. These readers impress us as of a kind apart from the letter-writing teams, phone brigades and the like.

Unsolicited advice to correspondents:

1. When emailing, please use your original address given by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). We are leery of people using secondary addresses such as those from yahoo, hotmail and the like. If the sender’s identity and true location cannot be verified directly using his listed address, his email loses its value.

2. Stick to the issues and keep your presentation logical and sober. Be brief. Name calling and insults do not add to your argument. We do not pay attention to those who curse and call people names.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 11, 2004)

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