POSTSCRIPT / May 6, 2007 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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It happens when the ego of a proud people is tested

BLACKPROP: Some crude attempts at black propaganda can be so clumsy that they fall flat with a thud.

In General Santos City, people could not believe it when boxing champ Manny Pacquiao announced out of the blue that Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, his rival for the first congressional seat, had paid somebody P20 million to kill him.

As an amateur politician, Pacquiao may be forgiven for making such a silly statement, but not at the expense of truth and the reputation of other people. That is below the belt.

There is no need for Custodio to order her challenger killed, because a recent survey showed her leading by a wide margin. Besides, with Pacquiao swarming with bodyguards, it is impossible for an assassin to get near him.

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DOWN TO TWO: In Pampanga, some campaigners of the governor are spreading the canard that Fr. Eddie Panlilio, the priest on the verge of toppling Gov. Mark Lapid in an electoral tsunami, has a love child with a member of the Legion of Mary.

Dios co! If there is a sure sign of desperation, this is it.

Actually the three-corner fight for Pampanga governor is down to Fr. Panlilio and Lilia Pineda, wife of suspected jueteng lord Bong Pineda, who has been throwing millions like the money was expiring on May 14.

Supporters of Panlilio are worried that hundreds of more millions would be spent to buy votes or that massive cheating would rob the priest of what they see as impending victory.

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SAVING GRACE: As I see it, cheating — such as misreading votes, switching ballot boxes, misreporting election returns — is not likely. The Lapid and Pineda camps will be watching (and canceling out) each other. Then there are the citizen watchdogs.

The danger I see is that some people (e.g. cobradores or bet collectors, some mayors, some police officers, and, yes, even some media men) who have eaten off the hands of jueteng lords too long might be too inured to now listen to conscience. They might just force it.

One saving grace is that the ego of the proud people of Pampanga has been challenged. It would be macarine ( nakakahiya, shameful) if they have this golden chance to free their community from the clutches of vice and corruption and then blow it on May 14.

Earlier, Capampangans were macalunos ( nakakaawa , pitiful) for having been reduced to choosing between a �quarry king� and a � jueteng queen� so to speak. With Panlilio taking the high ground with them, it is now macarine for them to still fail to extirpate the scourge.

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BILLBOARDS BACK: Suddenly we see huge billboards of a sweaty Pacquiao raising his yellow gloves and endorsing a pain killer drug or something.

I thought this form of political advertising is banned. The Commission on Elections had ordered the commercial billboards of senatorial candidate Cesar Montano removed even if these were contracted long before the actor imagined himself running for office.

Why is the Comelec now allowing Pacquiao to put up new billboards that display his face bigger than the drug he is supposedly endorsing?

Montano lost millions when his pre-campaign billboards were torn down, yet he bowed to what he thought was a lawful order. In their place, Pacquiao is now allowed to flaunt his new billboards. Is that fair?

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NO SUCH PLOT: In GenSan, the police have belied Pacquiao’s wild claim that assassins had been sent by Custodio to get him. Supt. Felizardo Serapio, Central Mindanao police chief, said he has yet to receive a report of such a plot. Hired guns, if any, do not announce their plan.

If Pacquiao does not watch out, politics and all the dirty things associated with it would destroy him. It seems he does not realize that he is just being used by his supposed friends.

In a recent press conference, he said he had been assured by President Arroyo that she would give him whatever he asks for GenSan. Pacquiao misunderstands the job. He does not know that a lawmaker belongs to a branch that is separate from and co-equal to the Executive.

How can GenSan be properly represented in Congress by someone who does not know the job and who is likely to be absent while he attends to his primary occupation of title boxing?

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TRUE RECTO: Now and then I check my lists of senatorial candidates to verify the party or coalition of Sen. Ralph Recto. It says here that he is with the Team Unity cobbled by President Arroyo from diverse political camps.

Of late, however, Recto sings discordant notes floating away from the pro-administration hymns of Team Unity. The youthful Batangas lawmaker may just replace Sen. Joker Arroyo as the maverick in the group.

Is he trying to prove something, I asked his staff. I was told that Recto is just being himself, speaking out his true feelings on issues. His statements, btw, echo the rainbow rhetoric from the right to center, left of center and the left even.

Having taken independent stances on many issues, he has been reaping unsolicited endorsements from ideological foes of the administration such as the party-lists Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan and Suara Bangsamoro.

In his statements, if he does not sound administration, neither does he sound opposition. He simply speaks as a true Recto, worthy grandson of the titan Claro Mayo Recto.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 6, 2007)

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