ERNESTO MACEDA: PNP'S GOOD TIME

MANILA, September 20, 2003 (MALAYA) PRESIDENT Arroyo reacted correctly to a newspaper report that holduppers entered an expensive nightclub called Class Mate in Quezon City and divested the club's cashier of P200,000 and the customers of money and valuables. But what got the President's attention was the report that the victims included police officers.

GMA ordered PNP chief Hermogenes Ebdane to investigate and issued a directive banning police officers from frequenting nightclubs.

Monday night Ebdane himself raided several QC nightclubs to check on the presence of public officers in night spots. Not surprisingly, Ebdane found no one. First of all, Monday night is a slow night. Try Friday or Saturday night, General. Second, it is most likely that with Ebdane moving, word was easily passed by radio or cellphone down the line to get out of nightclubs. But one tell-tale sign was discovered. In the club cabinets holding open but unfinished bottles of liquor, at least nine bore of the names of colonels, majors and captains.

If Ebdane is serious, it does not require too much detective work to find out who those bottles belong to. I doubt if anything will come out of this "palabas." It is like those jueteng raids where they collect a few thousand pesos, arrest two or three collectors, then the next day it is business as usual.

They can't even stop the lewd, topless/bottomless shows all over Quezon City, Pasay and Parañaque, the source of big protection money for police generals.

It's nice to be a policeman these days. You make money, libre pa ang good time. Eventually many GROs become kabits of police officers.

PAGC Chairman Dario Rama now suggests that other presidential appointees and even elective officials be banned from nightclubs, raising a howl in Congress. Maybe for a good reason. Most deals for government contracts, even for protection, Customs and BIR- wise, drugs or jueteng, are negotiated in private nightclub rooms. One night's party for a government VIP costs P100,000 or more depending on the price of the GRO.

And the quality of GROs or hostesses has improved with more than half college students but minors. even former employees or professionals, some of whom have graduated to becoming movie bold stars or "No. Tohs" of congressmen, mayors and councilors.

Unfortunately, many students become nightclub entertainers without the knowledge of their parents in the province. And eventually many of them become pregnant or even sick of sexually transmitted diseases. Drug use is prevalent and many hostesses end up as drug addicts with no less than club managers pushing the habit to make more money and keep the girls under control.

A sad state of affairs but what choice do they have when no decent jobs are available and their families are impoverished. In fact, Labor Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas reported another increase in unemployment rates to increase 12.7 percent.

And at low quality clubs, white slavery is a problem. Kidnapping of young girls has been reported even on the streets of Manila.

Another big mess, another failure. And what will Malacañang have to say in all of these? Blame the opposition?

***

Senators Joker Arroyo, Ed Angara and Serge Osmeña are also correct in deciding to continue investigating the Jose Pidal exposé of Sen. Ping Lacson.

It is wrong for lawyers to insist that this investigation or any Senate investigation is not in aid of legislation. After only two hearings it is clear that there is need to review the Bank Secrecy Law, the Anti-Money Laundering Law, the Anti-Graft Law and whether it is time to define the role and functions of a presidential spouse. Thanks to Atty. Antonio Zulueta, it may also be necessary to further define the limits of the right to privacy and the exceptions to the rule.

It is clear to me that to sustain Ignacio Arroyo's right to privacy defense would render congressional committees inutile and will be detrimental to the public interest.

Abuse of parliamentary immunity? The Arroyo/Toh tandem has shown what to do. File a case before the Ethics Committee, undertake a media blitz and if they can convince the public, defeat the abusing solon in the next election.

I delivered more than 200 exposés during my legislative career. I am sure that the great majority of people welcomed it.

Let's not forget, under our Constitutional system, Congress not only legislates, it is the principal check and balance against abuse by both the executive and judicial departments.

***

The approval of the Pope's appointment of Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales is unanimous. Emphasis is put on the Lipa Archbishop's spirituality and being a man of prayer and conservative leanings. Meaning, as one of his priests said, hei s very unlikely to intervene in politics.

Cardinal Jaime Sin helped to overthrow Ferdinand Marcos in Edsa I and Joseph Estrada in Edsa II and his boosters are proud of that.

But it cannot be denied that it drove many Marcos and Erap supporters away from the church.

In an era of declining church membership, it is time to review the role of the clergy in politics.

If it is not right for a priest to endorse the election of any candidate from the pulpit, it is also not right for a priest to ask for the ouster of any incumbent.

Can you imagine what would happen if parish priests called for the election or removal of any mayor in his sermons? Or for a bishop to call for the recall or removal of a provincial governor? It would divide the town or province into two groups along political lines.

The Pope's message in the Rosales appointment is clear: the Philippines church must ... leave the realm of politics to politicians.

It is time to insist again on the separation of church and state.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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