POSTSCRIPT / December 13, 2007 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Media making it appear cops are picking on them

PICKING ON PRESS?: The way some media are playing the removal of civilians from the five-star command post of a revolt-in-progress in Makati last Nov. 29, they are making it appear that the police were picking on the press.

The authorities should have made it clear from the start that newsmen were also rounded up not because they were “media” but because they and several others were at the crime scene and were obstructing police operations.

How else would responding policemen have acted after finding civilians (including some claiming to be “press”) with the armed group encamped at the Manila Peninsula hotel to direct a mass-military revolt?

Actually, they were removed from the scene not because, but in spite, of their being members of media — a status that was subject to verification in the midst of an exploding public disorder.

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VELVET GLOVES: Policemen sent to quell an uprising cannot be expected to tiptoe gingerly and put on velvet gloves whenever they encounter persons claiming to be “media.” That is the surest way to lose a quarry and the entire war.

At the height of a revolt-in-progress, all persons caught with the principals at the crime scene must be considered suspects. There is no other way to do that job.

Why the handcuffs? Until they are cleared, all suspects should be treated uniformly, assuming the police do not run out of handcuffs.

Why should some suspects, like the apparent ringleaders, be led away in handcuffs while a few others claiming to be “press” are exempted from the same standard operating procedure?

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BAD IMAGE: That was a shocking poll survey conclusion of Pulse Asia that the Arroyo administration is the most corrupt in contemporary times, beating even the notorious Marcos kleptocracy.

We will not delve into the methods used to gather and interpret the survey data. But justified or not, the negative conclusion being offered to the public – which is disposed to believing the worst said of politicians — is harsh.

That such a judgment came about is not surprising considering the utter failure of Arroyo propagandists to present the administration in favorable light despite its palpable achievements in some key areas.

One failure is their inability to close the gap between the administration claim of an economic upswing and the widespread complaint that the supposed improved quality of life is not being experienced by the masses.

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MAR TIPS: From the Senate comes unsolicited advice from Liberal Party president Mar Roxas: “I urge the Arroyo administration not to shrug off the survey findings. Instead, it must work towards reversing how the people perceive the government’s sincerity.”

Senator Roxas, who is poised to run for president in 2010, listed theseareas where he said the administration can “start walking the talk and hardening its resolve against corruption”:

* Release the NEDA-ICC documents on the National Broadband Network project so the public could see how their government approved the project.

* Bring home “Joc-Joc” Bolante of fertilizer-funds infamy to face the music in the proper venues, whether the Senate or the courts, and to make sure that the fertilizer fund scam is finally resolved.

* Cancel all foreign loans associated with questioned big-ticket projects, including those for the P25-billion Cyber-Ed.

* Go after the big-time smugglers and tax evaders, sparing no political sacred cow.

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TRALALA: Back to the Trillanes Tralala – the uprising led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV with a grizzled general, an ageing politician and a runabout priest serving in the chorus line.

Two Senate committees insist on wringing the last publicity juice from it. The chairmen of the committees on justice and human rights, and on public order and illegal drugs, refuse to be dissuaded from holding more hearings on that overworked episode.

Maybe they should also look for the answer to the question: What has Trillanes given back to repay the millions that the government has spent on him all these years?

The former navy lieutenant (junior grade) has been on the government payroll since his cadetship at the Philippine Military Academy, to his stint in the armed forces and now in the Senate.

Somebody is adding up the millions that taxpayers have spent on him versus the damage he has inflicted on the economy, the country’s image and the national psyche.

Better still, the joint panel’s inquiry should telescope into the proposal of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago for the committee on ethics to punish Trillanes for his unparliamentary conduct.

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IN THE BAG: When the barkers of President Arroyo announced last week that she was proceeding to Kuwait to plead with the Kuwaiti Emir to spare the life of death convict Marilou Ranario, that was the giveaway that the Filipina will be saved.

The President would not have announced such an audacious move of pleading with Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah if the objective was not yet in the bag.

Marilou was sentenced to death by hanging after she was found guilty of killing her employer. Her death sentence has been commuted to a life term.

At that time, “blood money” had already been accepted by several family members of the victim, paving the way for clemency.

In fact, Vice President Noli de Castro was originally set to fly to Kuwait to play the savior’s role. But he had to turn it over to the President who was abroad anyway.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 13, 2007)

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