POSTSCRIPT / September 9, 2010 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Why cops and robbers carry nail clippers/files

PICKING CUFFS: Now you know why many policemen carry nail clippers with files. It is not to keep their manicured nails trim, but to open handcuffs when the keys go missing. Using a can-opener or a stick of dynamite may not be advisable.

The Houdini-like stunt of picking a handcuff with a nail file was reenacted for investigators yesterday on TV by the driver of the bus carrying the eight Hong Kong tourists who were shot dead Aug. 23 by a dismissed police officer holding them hostage. (But since the original handcuff was not used yesterday, he failed to open it.)

After freeing himself that bloody Monday, bus driver Alberto Lubang leaped out the window and sprinted to the police command post shouting that all his passengers had been shot dead by the hostage-taker.

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HYSTERICAL: When I saw and  heard on TV the driver screaming “Patay na silang lahat!” (They are all dead!), I jumped from my seat shouting “Huwag kayong maniwala!” (Don’t believe him!)

Experience has taught this newsman that when it comes to body count, rechecking is very critical. In an accident, for instance, one sees five apparently lifeless bodies extricated from the wreckage and he could wrongly report that five persons were killed.

Sometimes, some of the “dead” eventually regain consciousness or are saved at the hospital. In shooting incidents, some victims purposely play dead just to be spared. Or a victim with several gunshot wounds may end up alive.

The driver was not in a position to conclude that all his passengers had been killed since his back was toward them and had no direct view of what was going on behind him.

His hysterical report that all his passengers were dead may have influenced whoever was in charge (Sino ba talaga?) of the rescue operations to order an assault since all the hostages were already presumed dead anyway.

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SUBSTANDARD: Back to the celebrated handcuff, now we can imagine that goons and gangsters and not just policemen will also start carrying nail files in case they are restrained and have to free themselves.

Let us hope that the Senate does not open an inquiry into the procurement of police handcuffs and that local governments will not pass ordinances regulating the possession and carrying of nail clippers outside of residences and beauty shops.

Seriously, the bus driver’s do-it-yourself lesson raises the question of how substandard (and therefore overpriced) are handcuffs that the Philippine National Police buy from the usual friendly merchants.

The really tough handcuffs, if we are to believe those Stateside movies, cannot be cut that easily by a steel saw or even by acetylene torch.

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ALIS DIYAN! NOW NA!: Why are Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo and Undersecretary Rico Puno making it difficult for their President?

Cannot the Katzenjammer Kids see that as a good commander, the Chief Executive is just showing his concern for his men? The President does not convince somebody to leave his comfort zone and join the Cabinet – only to dump him at the first sign of a political storm.

President Aquino even went to the extent of owning responsibility for the kapalpakan (bungling) of his boys. Why don’t they just resign?

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FAST SOLUTION: The Department of the Interior and Local Government has control and supervision over the national police, among other agencies.

But since the President did not see Robredo as fit to oversee the police, he entrusted that chore to Puno, his shooting range buddy. Then when things went awry, Puno himself admitted that he had neither the training nor the experience to run the police.

Obvious solution: (1) Fire on the spot Robredo and Puno if they do not resign. (2) As consolation, appoint Robredo as consultant on Bicol affairs, and make Puno an armorer and ammo bearer.

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XEVERA: The dispute between the National Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG) and Globe Asiatique Realty Holdings Corp. over dwellings covered by loans to shadowy borrowers threatens to drag big-name personalities into the case.

Globe Asiatique is owned by businessman Delfin Lee, whom we have not met or talked with. I am interested in the case because one of his Xevera projects is in our hometown in Mabalacat, and I know of similar cases of other big developers.

But let us not jump to conclusions about “ghost housing,” as Marikina congressman Romero Quimbo seems disposed to do. A former Pag-IBIG president, Quimbo knows Globe Asiatique well and, in fact, had been one of its supporters.

Records show that he had defended Pag-IBIG’s billions in credit lines to Globe Asiatique. He must have checked Lee’s credit background and track record in the housing business.

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NOLI CALLED: Mandaluyong congressman Neptali Gonzales II’s deploring “irresponsible use of Pag-IBIG funds for unlawful housing” is an indictment of Quimbo under whose term as Pag-IBIG president Globe Asiatique enjoyed lending support.

Quimbo’s protégé, Jaime Fabia, who succeeded him as Pag-IBIG head, was also a strong supporter of Globe Asiatique. Fabia told the agency’s board of trustees that Lee’s projects are “really beneficial to Pag-IBIG fund members.”

It looks more of a case of “dummy borrowers.” It was Lee himself who reported to Pag-IBIG the presence of borrowers who may have been fraudulently used by operators selling his Xevera units.

Lee’s big problem now seems to be his having to raise billions to buy back, under the rules, the accounts of the dummy borrowers.

Former Vice President Noli de Castro who was once housing czar has been asked by the House to appear in a legislative inquiry into the case. He agreed to testify.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 9, 2010)

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