MANILA, September 2, 2003 (STAR) POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual, Jr.  - CATCHING UP ON PING: Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson has been shown peddling falsehoods, flouting bank secrecy laws and abusing parliamentary immunity when he claimed in an accusatory speech at the Senate that First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo used the alias Jose Pidal to maintain secret accounts.

It has now turned out that Pidal is not Arroyo, but his younger brother Ignacio, contrary to the claim of Lacson.

As for the senator’s disclosing details of bank accounts of private individuals who are presumed to be innocent, we think Lacson was unfair to them by dragging them into his quarrel with Arroyo.

If these private persons violated any law, Lacson is duty-bound as an official, and as one hoping to be president one day, to file the proper complaint instead of slandering them while hiding behind parliamentary immunity.

With us in media unwittingly abetting the deluge of reckless charges, our poor country is now drowning in parliamentary saliva. Lacson should either put up or shut up.

Or, as a man, the least he can do is repeat his accusations outside the Senate hall so his victims can have fair recourse in law.

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NEW ROAD OPENED: Good news for fellow motorists who have to endure crawling and bumping along the North Luzon Expressway is the opening late yesterday of an upgraded eight-kilometer northbound stretch from Candaba to San Simon, Pampanga.

Standing windblown in the open back of a pickup, President Arroyo led the opening drive-through with chairman Oscar M. Lopez of the Manila North Tollways Corp. She proceeded to Clark Field some 30 minutes away for the former airbase’s centennial celebration.

The President expedited the tollway ceremony by not delivering a speech. We liked that. Not wont to waste time, the working President also used a break in the program to hold several official meetings under a tent on the highway.

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ACCELERATED SKED: The stretch opened yesterday was raised by two to three meters of stabilized lahar, which is abundant in the area. A 30-centimeter-thick concrete layer was built on the compacted lahar, then covered with two outer layers of 15-centimeter-thick asphalt.

MNTC president Jose de Jesus said that sections of the tollway would be opened to traffic as they are completed. By end of September, the San Simon-San Fernando stretch farther north will also be opened.

By Christmas, he promised, work on the four-lane northbound side from the Balintawak entrance to Burol in Bulacan will be completed. The other four-lane side, southbound, will be finished by the first quarter of next year.

The entire 84-kilometer tollway, built to international standards, has a completion target of February 2005. But De Jesus said that internally, they are gearing to finish it by Christmas of 2004, or even earlier.

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LOSS OF CITIZENSHIP: We’re being flooded by queries on dual citizenship, which is covered by the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act of 2003 signed last Friday. So, we continue to discuss it.

Even without the new law, some Filipinos already enjoy dual citizenship. For others, including natural-born Filipinos who had lost their citizenship when they were naturalized as citizens of another country, the new law makes possible their repatriation or the recovery of their lost citizenship.

Many readers in the United States have expressed concern that repatriated Filipino Americans taking an oath of allegiance as returning Filipinos may automatically lose their US citizenship.

We have said "not necessarily." But some readers cited provisions of the US Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA) apparently stripping Americans of their citizenship the moment they swear allegiance to another state.

Again, we said not necessarily – if our reading of US law and policy, as well as some recent US Supreme Court decisions, is right.

Still, our advice to everybody affected by the new law on dual citizenship to consult an immigration lawyer or inquire in writing with the proper authorities.

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e-postscript: You can read Postscript in advance simply by going to our personal website www.manilamail.com. While at our ManilaMail.com site, you can also peruse back columns and review past discussions on specific subjects. E-mail can be sent to us at manilamail@pacific.net.ph.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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