POSTSCRIPT / December 15, 2013 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Opinion Columnist

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Not convicted, GMA presumed innocent

NINOY’S FURLOUGH: When Ninoy the father of President Noynoy Aquino was in maximum security detention, the martial rule strongman Ferdinand Marcos granted him furlough in 1979 to spend the Christmas holidays with his family at their Times Street residence in Quezon City.

And when Ninoy later needed a delicate procedure for his heart ailment, Mr. Marcos allowed him to seek specialized treatment in the United States, his country of choice, and then to stay on to recuperate with his family in Boston, Massachusetts.

At that time, Ninoy was already convicted of serious crimes — and had in fact a death sentence on his head ready for execution.

After the successful operation, Ninoy travelled on his own volition to other countries, meeting allies and confederates. The opposition leader in exile went on to publicly speak against the Marcos dictatorship.

Ninoy was in blatant violation of the strict “Don’t-Hit-Marcos” condition for his being allowed to seek medical treatment abroad. But to Mr. Marcos’ credit, not once did he order Ninoy back to the country.

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TITANIC ACT: The relationship of two Titans of the old school is being recalled here to highlight in contrast the style of President Noynoy Aquino in handling the predicament of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, now House representative of the second district of Pampanga.

The 66-year-old Arroyo, facing charges of election fraud and plunder, has been detained under guard at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City where she is being treated for a life-threatening spinal disorder and other ailments.

Her doctors are worried that a slight slip of her metal spinal brace might cost her her life even as she continues to lose weight due to stress and her not being able to eat normally. A loose metal plate sometimes gets in the way of her esophagus.

There are suggestions that, if only because of her critical condition, she be allowed to be home with her family on a Christmas furlough. Her doctors said such a holiday break might improve her chances of recovery.

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TREATMENT ABROAD: President Aquino has not commented on the furlough idea, but has turned down her and the doctors’ entreaty that she be allowed to seek treatment abroad with a specialist of her choice. The reason given was that she might not return any more.

Lost in the debate colored by politics is the fact that the ailing former president has NOT been convicted of any crime and is, under the law, presumed INNOCENT.

Unlike Ninoy, GMA has no death sentence on her – except probably somebody’s wish that she would die in detention.

In media forums, some of us sometimes wonder aloud why the administration seems to be so consumed with spite and vengeance. What has GMA done to the President or his family to earn such rage? Somebody privy to the two families’ interlinked secrets may be able to tell us.

If the loathing stems from the corruption that had marked GMA’s rule – as major scams also have marred other administrations, past and present — that should be left to the courts to sort out. An accused is presumed innocent until proved otherwise.

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BRILLIANT ACTING: We agree with House Speaker Sonny Belmonte that Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes was “overacting” when he ordered 422 winning candidates to vacate their posts for “failing” to file statements of their expenses and contributions received in the 2013 poll campaign.

While a few actually did not submit the required papers, there were some who filed them through their agents (like when filing income tax returns), or inadvertently used the wrong form, or who filed what they knew were the proper paperwork and had been issued certificates of compliance.

Whatever is the reason, it seems only fair that the Commission on Elections should have written the candidates themselves first to apprise them of the supposed violation rather than have them learn of it through the media.

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VISTALAND’S ZERO: Here is how a fat “0” (Zero) can make a big difference in the relief and rehabilitation of victims of super typhoon Yolanda that devastated the Visayas last month.

Former senator Manny Villar, chair of the Villar Group of Companies, wrote a check for P8.1 million for the calamity victims as he celebrated his birthday last Friday with his employees.

Why the “butal” in the figure? The amount was in addition to the P814,000 raised from Vista Land employees who participated in the “Run for a Cause” where the company committed to donate P1,000 for every finisher.

“I was thinking of doubling this amount,” Villar told his surprised employees. “But instead of doubling it, I’ll just add another zero at the end!”

A new employee, Dyan Ballesteros, gushed: “His generosity is overwhelming! I was shocked in a good way; some of us were in tears. It was really a wow-moment! I am proud to belong to his company.”

With the zero added at the end of the P814,000, the donation grew to P8,140,000! Addressing the immediate needs of the typhoon survivors is just a first step, Villar said. “The second phase is rebuilding their homes.”

He explained: “Our subdivisions were not spared. I want to bring Camella Homes in these areas to their pre-Yolanda state so it will inspire the people of Leyte, Samar, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Cebu and other ravaged areas to move on.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of December 15, 2013)

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