LONDON, OCTOBER 10, 2003 (STAR) BY THE WAY By Max V. Soliven  - That was a weird banner headline statement yesterday from Senate President Franklin Drilon. In response to queries about his colleague Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacsonís impending arrest over the revised Kuratong Baleleng massacre case, Frank didnít go to Lacsonís succor. Not even in a collegial manner.

Instead he cracked that Lacson could continue his "incredible Hulk/Pidal" accusations even if he were slapped into jail Ė through the "privilege speeches" of other Senators. Susmariosep, Franklin: Arenít you the Senate President? Shouldnít you be saying that it is wrong for a Senator of the Republic to be arrested while the Senate is in session?

Lacson may be tagged as an alleged mass murderer (though most people believe more Kuratong thugs ought to have been totalled) but heís still a solon, and Congress is back from its recess and presumably Ė a vast presumption, admittedly Ė back at work. Donít throw poor Ping to the lions with such alacrity, then, Mr. Senate President.

To be sure, Iíve never been a fan of the much abused "privilege speech" gambit of our Congressmen and Senators. This gives them the opportunity to cruelly libel, slander, or tar anybody with half-truths and innuendoes without having to defend their allegations in court, prove any of them, or handle the retribution of a libel or slander case. On the other hand, donít we espy a method in the madness of the GMA administration in the quick and easy drive to "silence" Lacson before he inflicts more verbal damage?

Lacson may, indeed, be dragged to jail on a just-raffled RTC court's command. (Remember, it was in this corner two weeks ago that I revealed there was already an "undated" warrant of arrest in the files for Lacson.) Yet this must not pre-empt his delivering a "bombshell" or a dud, as the case may be.

President GMAís late father, President Diosdado Macapagal, reaped a very bad reverse reaction when he tried to ban the propaganda movie of his challenger and rival, then Senate President Ferdinand Marcos. The movie had been entitled Iginuhit ng Tadhana (Marked by Fate) and much of it was pure unadulterated bullshit, but it was full of derring-do and Ė owing to Cong Dadongís futile attempts to suppress it ó clicked with the cinema-going masses. Then there was that propaganda book by Hartzell Spense called For Every Tear a Victory. My dear friend, Cong Dadong, inflicted a few tears on the ascendant FM, but in the end it was Marcos who scored the victory.

Let not history repeat itself. George Santayana, the philosopher, once said so truly: If man does not learn from history, he will be condemned to relive it.

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No matter how heroic a spin we may attempt to put on it, that tragic event in Camp Crame wasnít just a hostage drama, it was a horrible snafu and disaster.

Imagine a Moro terrorist, an Abu Sayyaf, grabbing his policeman-guardís M-16 rifle, and gunning down three cops in a vain bid to escape? After al-Ghozi and his two Abu Sayyaf co-escapees, werenít they supposed to have tightened the screws in the nationís Police Headquarters?

Obviously this hasnít happened. We may sing the glories of the Quezon City SWAT team, who bravely punched in to save the situation, but the entire sordid and bloody episode is another blot on the police eschutcheon and another humiliation for Camp Crame.

No wonder, Americaís National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, has been nagging her boss, Mr. George W. Bush, not to be so rash as to venture into the Philippines. But being a Texan, Bush wonít back down Ė just as he didnít back down in Iraq, although it gets more painful by the day to keep American boys and girls there, being sniped at every hour from dawn till dark.

Will our humiliations never end? I condole with the families of the dead. Yet, the only way to vindicate our slain servicemen is to make certain such fatal slip-ups donít occur again.

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Over here in Europe, everybodyís dumping on Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger for having had the gall to be elected "Governor" of California by an overwhelming margin Ė while 10 million Californians, in the same landslide ballot, kicked out the stupid exiting Governor, aptly named Gray Davis.

To begin with, Davis got what he deserved. When he was elected in 2002, California had a budget surplus of $7 billion. When the angry Californians tossed him out in a bizarre "recall vote", Americaís most populous state was groaning under a $40 billion budget deficit, the biggest in the USA!

The dethroned Davisís fellow Democrats are now boasting that they will start a "recall" ballot movement, in turn, against the new Republican Governor, Arnie Schwarzenegger. Sour grapes, fellows. Give it a rest. He hasnít done anything yet.

In its cover story here in London, THE TIMES headlined: "Oh, California... What a State to Get Yourself Into." The subhead burped: "In dumping its governor and electing Arnold Schwarzenegger to replace him, California is exhibiting all the classic symptoms of such disturbing psychological traits as attention-seeking egotism, narcissism and self-loathing, Chris Ayres puts the sunshine state on the psychiatristís couch."

The savage piece starts out with the lines: AND SO FANTASY has become reality: an Austrian-born actor and former body-builder with zero experience of public office, is the new Governor of California.

Are the Californians crazy? Everybody abroad used to regard them as such long before Schwarzenegger, as when they elected a former Grade B cowboy action star named Ronald Reagan, their Governor.

Why, that old fella with the help of his adoring Nancy, went, horrors, all the way to the White House!

Unless they amend the Constitution, the same canít happen to Schwarzie, because he was born in Austria not the US of A. But if Joe de Venecia can amend ours, why not Hollywood? More things are wrought by Hollywood than this world dreams of.

* * *

Letís face it: 45 percent of the voters in California voted to oust Davis who had been elected barely 11 months earlier. (He was only the second Governor in US history to be removed from office.) By contrast, 48 percent of the voters voted for Schwarzenegger.

His triumph is all the more spectacular given the bad press he had been receiving in the days winding up to the election. Fifteen women came forward, among them a well known English lady TV presenter, with accusations that Schwarzenegger had grabbed them and groped them. (Gee whiz, Arnie, why do you want to become Bill Clinton?) The influential Los Angeles Times slammed him with three successive front-page exposťs and furious editorial comment in the final days of the campaign, virtually damning "Terminator" as a terminal sexual harasser. Schwarzenegger weathered the storm, and may have garnered even more votes Ė we wonder whether it was the womanís vote, just like they turned out to return serial groper Clinton to the White House. Nevermore speak about the "power of the press!" Sad to say.

When Schwarzenegger won, the Los Angeles Times greeted his triumph with all guns firing, running the headline: "Hail to Die Gropenfuehrer! You Asked for It!" Indeed those California nutheads did, but what the heck: California alone is the fifth biggest economy in the world, so they must be doing something right.

Donít misunderstand me. I donít exactly like Arnold, whoís much better looking than I. Not merely is he a beefcake from Austria who openly said nice things about Adolf Hitler (his countryman from Braunau) but Arnie almost cynically had a plan, which he announced when he arrived for the first time in America. He said he planned to get himself a successful movie career (which he did), marry a girl from a very socially prominent family (which he did when he wed Maria Shriver, a niece of the late President John F. Kennedy, who, by the way, was himself a groper), and finally, become somebody important. Which he has now become. If thatís not "transparency", what is?

Conan wasnít a mere barbarian. For years he was a faithful Republican Ė while his wifeís family is strongly entrenched in the Democratic Party. Maaari siyang mamangka sa dalawang ilog, di ba?

Mariaís mother, Eunice, is the late JFKís sister, and they were all there at the victory ball Tuesday night in the Century Plaza Hotel in L.A. There was Mariaís father, Sargent Shriver, a former member of the Kennedy Cabinet and former candidate for Vice President; and around the group were toothy, cheering cousins, sisters, and brothers-in-law from both the Eastern Establishment and the Golden West.

Here in London, I watched a panel on Sky News discussing the "small earthqake in California". One, a Brit movie critic and journalist who claimed he had lived for years in California (perhaps in S.F.ís Castro district since he had that decided lisp), mourned the dizziness of the Californians. What a disaster for that State! He mourned.

He echoed the comment of the Financial Times which had described Terminator 3ís hero as "over-exposed, over-developed, over-sexed and apparently under-equipped for high office".

There were women in the forum, one of them a self-professed biographer of Scharzenegger who expressed dire predictions. The most sensible comment, however, came from an American lady (dare I call her black, or African-American?) She commented, "After all, itís the American dream. You can be a nobody. You can come out of nowhere Ė and then you get elected to the top!" You bet. Itís the right to choose Ė rightly or wrongly. The democratic ballot.

It is, as she spoke so truly, the American Dream. What if dreams sometimes turn into nightmares? The American, at least, dare to hope Ė to attempt, through adversity and disappointment, to scale the heights. Some fall, others succeed Ė even incongruously that overgrown muscle boy from the land that gave the world Silent Night.

It may be Good Night, America. But Schwarzenegger had the gumption to seize his dream. Who knows? He may surprise us all.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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