POSTSCRIPT / June 30, 2005 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA will lose it all, if she just reacts to media

FIRST STONE: This text came in yesterday:
Let him who is without sin cast the first judging stone upon a repentant president.

If we heed that admonition drawn in paraphrase from the Bible, we would hear a deafening thud as many conscience-stricken politicians drop the stone in hand.

You think that will happen? Will media allow that to happen?

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PLUCK IT OUT: Falling back on the Holy Book, let me repeat our suggestion made last June 14 on what President Arroyo may have to do, in good faith, to redeem herself and her presidency. Our Lord Jesus Christ says in Mark 9:43-47:

“43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

“45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter half into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:

“47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:”

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MIKE ON EXILE: It looks like it was along this biblical line that President Arroyo’s husband Jose Miguel (Mike) has decided to go on self-exile upon the couple’s realization that his drawing political flak has made it difficult for her to govern.

As for Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo and Negros Occ. Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, compare their stance to the suggestion in our June 14 POSTSCRIPT along the “cut it off… pluck it out” line in Mark cited above:

  1. Congressmen Mikey Arroyo and Iggy Arroyo will do the President and the country a big favor if they resigned. Their departure will not be taken as an admission of guilt of anything, but as a voluntary stepping aside.
  2. Before departing, Mike Arroyo better dismantle his foundation where “donations” are laundered, tell his boys controlling money-making agencies to resign, and the rest of his runners to drop all errands having to do with money.

The Executive appointees brought in by her husband must be dismissed outright by the President, followed by a quick audit to determine any accountability.

Mikey and Iggy, on the other hand, are both congressmen. Since they are not supposed to take orders from the President regarding their office, they should quit on their own and never look back.

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REACTIVE: Whatever followup action President Arroyo plans by way of giving substance to her “I’m sorry…” statement Monday evening, she should move faster. Events moving at a fast clip may make her slow reactions irrelevant.

A senior American diplomat has noted in a report to the home office that President Arroyo is “weak and reactive.” Review presidential statements on key issues. You will note that many of them are mere reactions to news headlines and statements of opposition leaders.

How can the country pull itself out of the pit if the President merely reacts to what is reported in media instead of grabbing the initiative and dictating the national agenda?

What is holding back the President? Is it the boss herself or her handlers who are quite slow? Whoever it is, she projects an image of indecisiveness.

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WHAT THEY SAY: There is a collection of reactions in the Internet to the “I’m sorry” statement of President Arroyo last Monday that print readers will find useful:

Corazon C. Aquino: I am glad the President has broken her silence. Her admission of judgmental lapses leading to improper conduct on her part is a truly welcome development. Tonight the President has made a strong beginning and I hope she will continue in the direction of better and more responsive governance. Let us pray for her and for all of us, Filipinos.

Sen. Ralph Recto: The crisis is now over because the petite lady has sung. After her mea culpa, we must now all move on. We must repay her candor with cooperation. What’s important is that after her confession, she had outlined her acts of contrition — that of working doubly hard. Let the process of national healing, which truth and humility made possible, begin.

Sen. Mirian Defensor Santiago: The President has committed no crime or even a mistake in judgment. There’s no basis for her to resign or be impeached.

Vice President Noli de Castro: It’s not easy to admit lapses in judgment and at the same time ask the nation for forgiveness. Sana maging batayan ito ng mga taumbayan na magsimula muli dahil sa maraming nasayang na mga araw. Tuloy-tuloy na sana tayo sa pag-unlad ngayon inamin na ng Pangulo ang kanyang kasalanan.

Senate President Franklin Drilon: What she did is right. She apologized to the people. That is a mark of a true leader. Concrete actions must now be undertaken if government must win back the confidence of the people. Dapat masundan ito ng reporma. Dapat ipakita niya sa taumbayan na wala siyang pinipili (when it comes to eliminating graft and corruption).

House Speaker Jose de Venecia: Mrs. Arroyo regained the moral high ground. It is our hope that our officials and our people will now move forward to attend to the many problems still confronting the nation.

US Embassy spokesman Ronald Post: Washington is behind President Arroyo and the American government maintains its support to the Arroyo administration.

Tarlac Rep. Jesli Lapus: Let us heed President Arroyo’s call for us to now move forward after she has addressed the tape issue.

Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay: The President has risen ten feet tall by uttering the truth and apologizing for a lapse in judgment on her part due to election-related pressures.

Davao City Rep. Prospero Nograles: I urge Filipinos not to be swayed by calls for her resignation or impeachment. I didn’t expect that from a President to have stated na humihingi ng kapatawaran,admitting what was contained in the tape. I praise her for that courage. Yung pagso-sorry ay hindi ibig sabihin ay may dayaang nangyari sa nakaraang halalan. Walang nilabag na batas si PGMA. The opposition’s purpose is to topple the government.

Loida Nicolas Lewis: It is unprecedented for a President to ask for forgiveness. The Philippines is entering the Promised Land. Healing should begin.

Donald Dee, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief: We are ready to give the President a chance. I believe our countrymen want peace so we can attend to our economic problems. That is the most important agenda before us.

Raul Concepcion: We should end it with that. I’m also airing the same statement as to what Susan Roces made. Andyan pa angVAT, I think kailangan natin ng breathing space sa ngayon. Sovereignty ang hinahanap ng mamamayan. Talagang bagsak ang ekonomiya natin dahil sa deficit at ang corruption ay endemic at ang dapat niyang gawin is to totally change the economy by moving forward.

Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines: The ULAP lauds President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her act of statesmanship and humility in acknowledging her lapse of judgment in having called a top election official after a counting of ballots in last year’s presidential race had already been settled.

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ALCOHOL FUEL: Our item on using alcohol for fuel in a bid to lessen our dependence on oil elicited supportive reactions from some readers. Our vast sugar cane plantations can be the source of cheap alcohol.

One of them, geologist Manuel C. Diaz, said in an email: “The ethanol fuel program can be accelerated by just attaching the ethanol fermentation and dehydration plants to existing sugar mills.

“A Brazilian company ‘Planacool’ quoted a price for a piggy back plant with a capacity of 140,000 liters per day of dehydrated ethanol at $2.5 million that can be made operational in less than six months. (We did not know about this when we ran that alcohol item. — fdp)

“A piggyback plant is more viable and affordable compared to a stand-alone ethanol plant. Unless, again, the project proponents want fat kickbacks.

“Furthermore, the ethanol plant has to be located where the waste water will be utilized as a liquid nitrogen-containing fertilizer and can be spread back to the sugar cane fields. The wastewater contains at least 5 to 10 percent bioavailable nitrogen. This will solve the environmental problem associated with the disposal of the fermentation wastewater.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 30, 2005)

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