POSTSCRIPT / September 10, 2006 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Spot the difference: A cow or a carabao?

PAPAL CALL: Calling to all Catholic politicians, Pope Benedict XVI stressed last Friday that democracy will succeed “only to the extent that it is based on truth and a correct understanding of the human person.”

The Pontiff made the remarks as he received in audience the bishops of Ontario, Canada, who were in Rome on their five-yearly visit.

He told them: “In the name of ‘tolerance’ your country has had to endure the folly of the redefinition of spouse, and in the name of ‘freedom of choice’ it is confronted with the daily destruction of unborn children.”

“When the creator’s divine plan is ignored, the truth of human nature is lost,” he was quoted by the Zenit news organization as saying.

Citing “The Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life,” the Pope said: “Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle; otherwise Christian witness to the splendor of truth in the public sphere would be silenced and an autonomy from morality proclaimed.”

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SPOT THE DIFFERENCE: There is a politicized “search for the truth” involving allegations that a member of the First Family maintains a multimillion-dollar secret account in a bank in Munich, Germany.

The denials of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and later of his wife President Gloria that they own the alleged mega-account mentioned by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Peter Allan Cayetano did not resolve the questions raised.

It is intriguing that most of the media seem to have glossed over the fact that the account mentioned by Cayetano is not the same account cited in the “clearance” that the First Gentleman had secured from the Munich bank.

The two accounts differ by one digit. There was an extra number “7” in the account number mentioned in the clearance that Arroyo brought back from Munich. One digit is all that is needed to make the two accounts poles apart.

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COW VS CARABAO: Let us use a comparative illustration to explain more clearly the difference:

Let us say that Cayetano said that a member of the Arroyo family was keeping a fat COW in a barn in Munich. With media in tow, Arroyo went to the barn owner, who then issued upon request a certification that Arroyo was not keeping a CARABAO in his barn.

Arroyo came back to Manila exhibiting the clearance about a CARABAO to show, he said, that Cayetano was lying when he accused him of keeping a COW in a Munich barn.

The dissonance is as stark as that, but most people do not seem to notice the difference between a COW and a CARABAO.

It is clear that not all the issues are joined. But this has not prevented Arroyo from filing libel charges against Cayetano and formally asking for his ouster from the House of Representatives.

Is Cayetano political dead meat? Arroyo has the numbers in the House to do his bidding.

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9/11 FILM: Truth is also the central point in comments stirred by “The Path to 9/11,” the TV miniseries that ABC is scheduled to start showing tomorrow, the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on two US landmarks that killed almost 3,000 persons.

Former President Bill Clinton, for one, called for ABC to “tell the truth” in the film on the events leading up to the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon.

Some of those who had a preview said the film shows the Clinton administration was “afraid of failure and what it would mean to their approval ratings” when attacks on the al Qaeda terror network were being planned in the 1990s.

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CLINTON HANDLING: Some Clinton senior officials and advisers have accused the filmmakers of including “fictitious” and even “false and defamatory” scenes of how they responded to the terror threat.

CNN said former national security adviser Samuel Berger objected to the reported portrayal of him refusing to authorize a strike on Osama bin Laden when CIA operatives had the al Qaeda leader in their sights

Clinton said in Arkansas: “They ought to tell the truth, particularly if they’re going to claim it’s based on the 9/11 commission’s report. They shouldn’t have scenes that are directly contradictory to the factual findings of the 9/11 commission.”

ABC is not directly answering the critical comments, but it is reported to be rushing last-minute editing of the film.

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BOMB CARRIER: The truth is starting to come out that there really was no breach of security at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and the Davao City International Airport (DCIA), contrary to the initial claim made by self-proclaimed “anti-terrorism” expert Samson Macariola.

In media interviews, Macariola has made conflicting statements tending to support the assessment of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and airport security officials that the “bomb scare” generated by Macariola was a hoax.

Not one to mince words, Duterte called Macariola a liar, a KSP (kulang sa pansin or one starved for attention) and a weaver of tall tales.

A fuming Duterte has demanded that the book be thrown at Macariola for claiming that he was able to bring bomb-making materials aboard a commercial flight from Manila bound for Davao.

“Arrest and skin him alive,” Duterte said in disassociating himself from the hullabaloo created by Macariola over an imagined feat that the latter, with the help of a reporter with known association with the Abu Sayaff,” seemed to have concocted to sell his “security” book.

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PSEUDO-MILITARY: We are familiar with the likes of Macariola who love dressing up in camouflage pants and olive drab type-B shirts that make them look “pseudo-military.”

But here we have an engineer with no real military background trying to sell pseudo-security stuff in book form and by way of a publicity stunt that has backfired on him.

Of course, the tight security at the NAIA would not have been able to detect the “bomb-making materials” brought into the plane by Macariola, because, as the evidence and his own statements would confirm, no such bomb-making materials were ever carried into the plane by him.

In the interview for a broadsheet conducted by the reporter who had carved a name for herself by selling video footages of kidnapping victims, Macariola initially claimed to have brought into the plane C-4 high explosives.

However, it has been found that he had nothing but play dough or modeling clay. Neither did he have blasting caps with him, though in his “video” that he shot on the plane, he could have easily passed off some other harmless materials as “bomb-making materials.”

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NO JOKING MATTER: Macariola was able to get past the security checks at the NAIA and the DCIA, including X-ray machines and bomb-sniffing dogs, because, as it is now clear, he had nothing on his person or his baggage that qualifies as banned materials.

Last time I checked, modeling clay is not banned in Philippine airports and in other airports worldwide.

Had Macariola carried real C-4 explosives disguised as play dough, the dogs at the NAIA and the DCIA would have sniffed him out. Neither would his smell have disguised the explosves and thrown off the trained canines.

This episode can be likened to a more recent incident in which a woman was ejected from a domestic flight for joking that she had with her a “time bomb.”

In some airports abroad and similarly well-secured establishments, we sometimes see notices that security personnel take their jobs seriously and will not let pass lightly any joke about bombs carried by people.

As much as the woman’s ill-advised joke netted for her grueling “session time” with security investigators at the airport, Macariola’s stunt should be dealt with accordingly. The proper charges should be slapped on him.

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LAX OR STRICT?: Enough too of politicians who have ridden on the issue for far too long now by making statements that take for a fact the fantastic claim made by a “security fraud.”

If these politicians really believe a shred of what Macariola has been saying, they could put their money where their mouth is by hiring him as their “security consultant.” That is, if the can entrust their safety to someone with an overly fertile imagination.

The immediate reactions to the Macariola episode have been grossly unfair to the men and women who make sure the airports are safe from terrorists and criminals.

The NAIA administration has been criticized for being overly strict in checking passengers and baggage. Thus it came as a surprise that after Macariola, the country’s premier airport was slammed for allegedly being lax in security.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 10, 2006)

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