POSTSCRIPT / March 11, 2008 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA should resign if she fails EDSA test

EDSA TEST: Yes, I agree that President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo should resign — if she cannot even rid EDSA of arrogant officials bullying their way through traffic with police escorts pushing other motorists out of the way.

This, to me, is the “EDSA Test” of the President. As a harassed motorist, my reasonable and simple demand is for the Chief Executive to make her subordinates behave like true public servants who respect the rights of others.

They should learn how to line up as they are not endowed with superior rights. Their drivers’ licenses are the same as those of us plain motorists.

Everyday on EDSA we scream invectives at officials cutting us in their heavily tinted vehicles. Escorted by armed security with sirens and flashers, these “public servants” push us away as they swerve from lane to lane in air-conditioned comfort.

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OFFICIAL USE: The other day, for instance, there was this idiot in a white van with license plate No. RAP 407 with two security cars hogging two lanes in heavy traffic to clear the way for him.

In the first place, why was the official in a hurry? He thought the government would collapse if he did not meet his date on time? Hoy!, if you want to arrive on time, move out earlier to make up for tight traffic situations!

In this and similar street tests, officials betray their being unfit for public service. They are arrogant, probably drunk with power, and incapable of empathizing with citizens groaning under a corrupt and inept officialdom.

They cannot even obey that simple rule of having “FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” stenciled prominently on their vehicles to mark them out as government property to be used according to auditing rules.

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EXAMPLE: To dramatize compliance with this basic rule, maybe the President can have her own vehicle(s) marked “FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY.” That high-profile example should make untenable abuses or violations by subordinate officials.

The arrogance of bully officials is among the reasons why there is rising resentment over display of power and privilege.

Many officials are not content with robbing the nation blind. Oblivious to the taxpayers who pay for their wages, perks and luxury, they even have the gall to come roaring from behind us on EDSA and push us off the road.

If President Arroyo cannot pass this simple EDSA Test, she should resign.

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AMBULANCES: Some friends from Alabang who hold office in Makati tell us that during the mad morning rush, there are suddenly many ambulances forcing their way through northbound traffic on the South Luzon Expressway.

If the police bother to check on these ambulances, they would discover that there no patients on many of them, only passengers trying to bluff their way through.

Knowing this, many of us jaded motorists have learned to ignore these ambulances rushing to gain undue advantage with their sirens and blinkers.

This is unfortunate, since it sometimes happens that a patient is actually on board on the verge of death or in labor pain.

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CHARTER NOTES: Readers who want to understand the discussion over the agreement among China, Vietnam and the Philippines for a seismic survey of an area in the Spratlys west of Palawan can start by reading the Constitution.

Article I (National Territory) says in full: “The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.”

Excerpts from Article XII (National Economy and Patrimony):

“Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. xxx The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. xxx

“The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. xxx

�The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific and technical resources.

“The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in accordance with this provision, within 30 days from its execution.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 11, 2008)

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