POSTSCRIPT / June 8, 2004 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Questioned CoCs need not delay entire canvass

MENTAL BLOCK: We tell our kids taking a long test under time pressure to skip any question that stumps them, to proceed to the next items and just go back to the difficult ones when they are done with the rest.

They should not allow “mental block” to slow them down and ruin their total performance.

We offer the same unsolicited advice to the joint Congress committee canvassing the votes for president and vice president in the May 10 elections.

The joint committee doing the canvass can segregate the questioned certificates of canvass, move on and continue the tally of the “clean” CoCs — while the questioned CoCs are examined simultaneously on one side by another division.

That is, if time is running out on the committee. If not, then we can proceed as is, on our slow crawl to a no-proc situation.

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DIVISION ALLOWED: It is not widely known that the rules actually allow for the joint committee to work either en banc or in two divisions. One division could be created and dedicated to threshing out CoC problems with the help of the Commission on Elections and such technical people as may be needed.

The mother division, meantime, can proceed to tabulate the “clean” votes. At the end of the tabulation, if the preliminary total scores and standings of the leading candidates will not be affected by the smaller number of questioned CoCs, a clear electoral verdict could be proclaimed.

For example, if the apparent winner at the end of the tally enjoys a margin of 900,000 votes based on the “clean” CoCs, while the questioned CoCs involve only a total of 90,000 votes (still be distributed among the candidates), obviously, the questioned votes could be safely put aside in determining the winner.

At the rate the tabulation is being snagged every time a discrepancy or alteration in a CoC is reported, Congress would not be able to finish the count in 100 days.

The presiding officer and the floor leader in the canvassing appear to be having a hard time reining in the wily opposition. The majority should field more seasoned parliamentarians and strategists.

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ERAP REJOINDER: Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada called last Tuesday to take exception to my comments in Postscript that day about his son Jinggoy’s election as senator and his (Erap’s) losing the presidency in January 2001 by abandonment.

To put our comments on abandonment in perspective, we recall (with the indulgence of those who have read them) what we said then:

“Abandonment of office, although akin to resignation, is not among the situations cited in the Constitution as basis for the vice president to either assume the presidency or to become the president.

“Abandonment is a theory that has been uppermost in our mind, even as we put forward the idea of constructive resignation in this space on the very day that Erap left the Palace with a sort of valedictory statement.

“Abandonment could be construed as a form of resignation, but since Erap has been insisting stoutly that he did not resign, we could fall back on this theory of abandonment.

“The Filipino would understand abandonment, an idea that is also familiar to sabong (cockfight) aficionados. In sabong , when a fighting cock runs away, kung tumakbo siya , he loses the bout — even if it is unscathed or even if the other cock already lies bleeding to death on the ground.

“A besieged Erap ran away, tumakbo siya — and lost the presidency by abandonment.”

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NO ABANDONMENT: Former President Estrada sent us Monday a letter dated June 2, 2004, that I requested him to write so he would not be misquoted.

He sent along a brown envelope with four compact discs (CDs) entitled “…and The Truth Will Set You Free” containing a graphic summary of why he believes he is legally still the president.

The substantive, unedited, portion of his June 2 letter says:

“I would like to thank you for two things regarding your column yesterday.

“First, when you wrote: ‘Seeing to it that Jinggoy, son of former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada was spared by the administration machine and allowed to take a Senate seat with his mother Senator Loi was a Malacanang master stroke’ — you appear to be saying that Mrs. Arroyo’s administration manipulated the May 10 elections by sparing and allowing Jinggoy to take a Senate seat. It is clear from your point of view, Jinggoy won by the grace of Malacanang instead of by the grace of the Filipino people.

“From my point of view, Jinggoy won because he was elected by the Filipino people. But I thank you for telling our people about the power of Malacanang’s election machinery.

“Second, when you wrote: ‘A besieged Erap ran away, tumakbo siya — and lost the presidency by abandonment’ — you appear to be saying that I abandoned the presidency. That is absolutely false. The fact alone that I did not resign shows that I had no intention of giving up the presidency. Had I intended to give up or abandon the presidency, I could have easily written a one sentence, one page resignation letter. I never did that.

“I believe our people will remember that I was a betrayed President and Commander-in-Chief. The Vice President, the Chief Justice, congressional leaders, the AFP Chief of Staff, the Secretary of National Defense and other public officials who enjoyed my personal trust had betrayed me with the unconstitutional proclamation of Mrs. Arroyo as my replacement at EDSA II.

“And then, they led their EDSA II followers to march to Malacanang to force me to resign. Still, I did not resign. But you and I know the potential violence of that situation. Had I stayed in Malacanang, there could have been blood-shed which was within my power to prevent.

“I chose the path of peace and the rule of law as contained in what you referred to as my ‘valedictory statement.’ In short, I did not abandon the presidency. And neither did I resign.

“I realize how slow the rule of law can be. But I shall have to wait along with our people who have kept their faith in our Constitution. I thank you for admitting that your theory of abandonment ‘is not among the situations cited in the Constitution as basis for the vice president to either assume the presidency or to become the president.’”

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PAJERO RECALL: The Philippine STAR reported on Page B-8 last Saturday that Japan’s Mitsubishi Motors Corp., already mired in scandals and falling stock prices, has announced another recall of about 347,000 passenger cars globally, including its popular Pajero sports utility vehicle.

The AFP report quoted by the STAR said that Mitsubishi informed the transport ministry last Thursday that it would recall 116,352 vehicles in Japan, including the Pajero, to change defective parts in the rear-wheel shaft, bumpers and signal indicators.

The AFP said the recall covered 10 models made between October 1998 and February 2004 for the Japanese market. It added that an additional 231,000 vehicles — the Pajero and the Carisma sedan — would also be subject to a recall overseas, depending on local regulations.

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NO RECALL IN RP: The reported recall could test not only the ethical conduct and social conscience of the local Mitsubishi company, but also the will and integrity of government regulatory agencies.

Regulatory agencies sometimes appear unconcerned or even afraid of big motor vehicle importers and distributors despite widespread consumer protests and recall orders from their mother firms in Japan, the US and other foreign bases.

An example of a disgusted Pajero owner is ABS-CBN TV host/producer Gene Orejana. His litany of complaints about his Pajero would make you cry, but that has not moved local Mitsubishi officials into correcting factory defects in the vehicle.

The mother companies of local distributors have no qualms recalling units with factory defects. But have you heard of a Philippine distributor recalling a series of faulty units for free repair? Nunca!

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 8, 2004)

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