POSTSCRIPT / June 23, 2005 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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But which of many CD recordings is authentic?

WHICH ONE IS IT?: It would be foolhardy for House committees conducting joint hearings to rush into listening, and thereby giving currency, to just any recording of alleged phone conversations on the conduct of the last presidential elections.

There are a couple of audio compact disc (CD) recordings circulating, each one different in content and quality from many others.

So which of these various versions should our congressmen allow to be played in the halls of Congress? Which recorded dialogues should be allowed to add to the confusion?

We all want the truth. The problem in the House is that, at this point, nobody knows for sure which of the recordings being offered contain the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

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SCREEN FIRST: If one or some of the CDs being submitted are played and entered into the record (or entered into the record and then played), it would be extremely difficult to backtrack later to weed out the recordings that are of dubious legality and authenticity.

The logical and prudent procedure would be to first screen the CDs being offered, so that only that one validated as THE legal and authentic original would find its way into the record.

And, btw, are our congressmen qualified to judge the technical integrity of CDs?

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the House committees conducting the inquiry are not any nearer the truth — if by truth we mean the full, unedited recording of actual conversations impacting on national interest.

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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT: We Filipinos who are used to, or amused by, the antics of homegrown politicians can understand the occasional flareup and display of partisan temper as contentious issues keep cropping up on the session floor of Congress.

I never belittle the entertainment value of congressional hearings. In fact, when the proceedings get boring, I sometimes catch myself wishing the hotheads among the congressmen actually came to blows.

I also ask myself at times if the tailored suits of some of the congressmen sitting or strutting for the TV cameras were paid for from public funds.

Entertainment of the congressional kind could be very expensive.

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SOBRIETY & COURAGE: The call of the hour is clearly one for sobriety, and the context is love of country.

I refer to the sobriety that movie icon Susan Roces, the widow of the late Fernando Poe Jr., displayed when she refused to be used as trigger for inciting protest mass action after the discovery of wiretapped phone conversations on alleged election cheating.

Too bad there was no followup to this inspiring display of statesmanship by someone who has reason to be bitter.

The call on Ms Roces by former President Cory Aquino, also a widow, could have set the stage for these women of courage coming together to teach us menfolk what grace under fire is all about.

But all is not lost. We can simply refuse to be stampeded into mass hysteria or to be distracted from our crucial concerns by inanities of politicians.

We have priorities for ourselves and our families, not to mention our nation. Politics should be nowhere near the top of the priority list. Nor is listening to cellphone ring tones or lapping up dubious recordings of illegally wiretapped conversations.

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WIFE-BEATING: I share the thoughts of Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra cautioning President Arroyo against “falling into the opposition’s trick question if it was her voice or not” that was in the taped conversations with a supposed election commissioner.

The “yes or no” question, Mitra said, is not unlike the naughty question of “Have you stopped beating your wife?”

If you say “Yes,” then it is assumed that you have been hitting your wife. If you answer “No,” the implication is that you are still beating up the poor woman.

Mitra said that if the President denies it was her voice on the tape, the opposition would ask her to prove it, and that if the President says “Yes, it is,” then she could be impeached.

“Closure will best be achieved if the President maintains her Sphinx-like silence and focus on her work,” he said. I agree,

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DIVINE INTERVENTION: Religious leader Bro. Eddie Villanueva, meanwhile, is back and is calling on President Arroyo to “prevent bloodshed” by making the “necessary decision” so that, he said, history will be kinder to her. He did not specify what that decision could be.

Villanueva of the Jesus is Lord Movement arrived from Hong Kong yesterday afternoon after several weeks of visiting Filipino communities in China and Israel.

He said his group would hold a rally on July 1 to “appeal to heaven for Divine intervention for the good of the nation.” No details were given.

The former presidential candidate in 2004 urged government officials to make a stand on critical political questions.

In the House, where an inquiry on the controversial phone conversations is ongoing, some majority congressmen have been noticed voting with the opposition.

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OOPS: Sorry, but a thunderstorm caused my tired computer to blink yesterday, resulting in the text of my column vanishing.

I know there are precautionary measures, such as saving text every now and then and using an uninterrupted power supply (UPS), but sometimes PC phantoms suddenly strike without fair warning.

Running out of time tinkering with the files and searching for the missing materials, I fell back on reconstructing the text. This is all I can come up with within the deadline.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 23, 2005)

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