ELLEN TORDESILLAS COMMENTS ON "MOVEMENT VS. ERAP"
Manila, April 8, 2000 - (By Ellen Tordesillas, Malaya) - The moment I walked into the Kalayaan Hall of Club Pilipino last Monday, I sensed some things were not quite right. Ed Olaguer, of the Light-a-Fire Movement was walking out, denouncing the people on stage.
Olaguer said he knows the background of two of those people on stage and they are not in a position to denounce corruption. One, he said, collaborated with Marcos. It turned out that one of those on stage was his sister - Linda Olaguer-Montayre, a former Good Shepherd nun.
I got a seat in front beside a guy who was wearing a T-shirt with the Communist hammer and sickle logo. A journalist friend whispered to me that the Social Democrats, who organized the launching, were questioning the presence of a "communist" in the event.
Linggoy Alcuaz was holding court with the press. I overheard him talking about nominating First Lady Loi Ejercito for sainthood. Wife Baby Araneta was nearby. Halfway through the program, Linggoy left followed by buddy Herman Tiu Laurel.
I saw a lot of familiar faces from the Aquino and Ramos administrations: former Solicitor General Frank Chavez; former BIR Commissioner Liwayway Chato; former Population Commission head Cecilia Yasay, wife of former Securities and exchange Commission chair Perfecto Yasay, Jr.; Noel Tolentino, former press undersecretary; Joey Ortiz, former special assistant to former Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus.
I saw two former labor officials who were linked to irregularities - Jose Sarmiento of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration during the Aquino administration and David Corpin of the Overseas Workers Welfare Agency. There was also Panfilo Villaruel, former head of Air Transport Office, who was charged with sexual harassment. I suppose the three were eventually cleared by the proper body.
The Pedrosa couple, Alberto and Chit, of the infamous PIRMA for Charter change, were there clapping enthusiastically while Ramon Binamira was reading the group's statement.
Binamira, whose most well-known accomplishment was having been a part of the Presidential Assistance for Community Development during the Magsaysay administration, seemed sincere with his crusade for good government.
He said the they have adopted the symbol of a slanted exclamation point to express its "frustration and impatience at the lack of direction, mismanagement, lack of simple decency and honesty that are bringing the country to the brink of chaos and disaster."
As he went on, however, he seemed out of touch with realities. He said these days, from the airport you can only take a cab that charges P400. Could he be referring to airport-accredited taxicabs that charge a fixed rate? Those taxis, even if they charge a little bit more, save us from the hassle of dealing with unscrupulous taxi drivers. My friend, Booma Cruz and I inquired from Club Pilipino management who reserved the place for the group and they said, "former Budget Secretary Salvador Enriquez". They said the minimum rent for the Kalayaan Hall is P42,000 for 100 people. There were about 200 people there, almost a third were members of media.
Enriquez was not there. I called him up and he disclaimed membership of the group. He said a group of friends working for non-government organizations asked if he could reserve a place in Club Pilipino for them. Since he is a member of Club Pilipino, Enriquez said he acceded to the request. But, he stressed, he was not the one who paid for the rental of the place.
Enriquez said his friends told him they want for good governance. "I support anybody desirous or working for good governance," he said."But whether I'm part of the 'Silent Protest' group is another issue because I do not know where it is leading to. Baka hindi good government ang gusto nila," he added.
It was funny because while the speakers were denouncing lack of direction by the Estrada leadership, that was impression that we got of them.
The press was in full force including foreign media outfits to find out who are these people spearheading what is being interpreted as a campaign to oust Estrada before the end of his term in 2004. In looks more than just a coincidence that Sen. Teofisto Guingona called for the resignation of Estrada later in the day.
After more than an hour of speeches that said nothing new, many members of media were starting to feel impatience. We wanted concrete information if we have to write a story. Tress Reyes of Nikkei Shimbun went up the stage and requested Ms Olaguer-Montayre to please start the press conference.
Tress asked who are the members of the convenor's group and a certain Teddy Lopez, who was the businessman in the group, the ones on stage are part of the convernor group.After some hesitation and consultation with Olaguer-Montayre, Lopez said "so is Linggoy Alcuaz."
Who is financing the group? Lopez said they are spending their own money.
Twink Macaraeg of Probe asked who are the leaders and she was told that they are an "amorphous group". They stressed that they are non-partisan and non-violent. They just want good government.
Media's confusion about the group was best expressed by Twink's question: Do I get it clear that your main objective right now is to distribute stickers? Lopez said, not really. They are in the process of finding out.
Estrada should be happy to know that he is not alone in not knowing where to lead this country to.
By the way, the ! stickers sell for six pieces for P10.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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