FEDERICO PASCUAL JR: FPJ POPULARITY RATING HIGH INDEED, BUT IT'S FLAT

MANILA, NOVEMBER 27, 2003  (STAR) POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual, Jr. - ITS NOW OFFICIAL: Okay, all you GMA forces baying at Da King, pull back muna and give our friend Fernando Poe Jr. a little more time and room to recover his senses. Sport lang. It was his day yesterday. Give it to him.

For weeks, we sounded the alarum bells about another movie actor attempting to snare the presidency mainly on the basis of his box office popularity.

But FPJ went ahead according to script, the whispered promptings of his handlers and the boisterous cheers of his fans rendering him deaf to more sober counsel.

Give him and his would-be First Lady Susan Roces some time, and the excitement of the moment yesterday at the Manila Hotel will soon die down.

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HIGH BUT FLAT: The surveys have placed FPJ consistently somewhere on the fourth rung after Sen. Noli de Castro, former Education Secretary Raul Roco and President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

We see no reason why FPJs political stock will suddenly shoot up just because he made an anti-climactic announcement yesterday about his running. The horizontal line indicating his poll standing has been high on the charts, but it is flat.

But of course, if the stock market operators are naughty, they could make the stocks dive (or soar!) as if in reaction to FPJs throwing his hat into the ring. They will try anything to simulate some much-needed movement in the bourse.

(In this gullible town, there are still some people who swallow the myth that the stock market, like its New York counterpart, behaves in direct relation to announcements of some public figure.)

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WHAT PLATFORM?: We were holding our breath waiting for a member of the press to ask the actor about his Platform of Government. Eventually someone did.

Like his kumpadre Joseph "Erap" Estrada, FPJ was mumbling his lines most of the time. We did not hear him say "Platform? Whats that?" Instead, we heard something about his advisers writing one soon, just wait.

Even now we are able to get glimpses, despite his dark glasses, of what this actor has up in his head. It is obvious that his handlers still have a lot of retooling to do.

Rouse from bed any of the other presidential aspirants, and ask what his/her program of government is or will be, and you will surely get a passable answer. But not from FPJ.

Anyway, as we said, give him a little more time to warm up to the tricky game.

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WHAT ABOUT PING?: The announcement of FPJ leaves the opposition in a quandary. At the very least, it has divided the ranks.

There is, for instance, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson reiterating his decision to run regardless of the seeming partiality of party leaders for FPJ. If Lacson also runs, which is likely at this point, the opposition will stand splintered against the formidable administration machine.

Lacson has reason to complain. The road show that Sen. Edgardo Angara says was designed to give opposition presidential wannabes some exposure and give the party a chance to gauge voters preference is clearly tilted in FPJs favor.

The pro-FPJ maneuvering among party bigwigs has been going on despite the fact that the actor is not even a member of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, while Lacson is.

Unlike Lacson, FPJ has not invested time and emotion and suffered bruises for the opposition. Yet the nomination appears being delivered to him on a silver platter.

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HOW TO CALL GLORIA: This may sound petty, but it is not. We are referring to the confusion over how to call the President. Is it President Macapagal or President Arroyo? Or President Macapagal-Arroyo (with or without the hyphen)?

With the confusion over the basic question of how the President is to be officially called, is it strange that there is more confusion in other aspects of her governance?

When she allowed herself to be called President Macapagal, with the consent of her husband Jose Miguel Arroyo, we thought she just wanted to cash in on whatever goodwill her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal, had earned.

But the media carrying the brunt of her public information campaign should at least be consistent in how to call the President. To mix metaphors, di maaring mamangka si Gloria sa dalawang pangalan.

Unless she has made a decision to stop being a hyphenated entity, discard the Arroyo tag and distance herself from the Pidal scandal (it rhymes!).

Btw, Postscript consistently writes it Gloria Macapagal Arroyo without the hyphen, but a hyphen mysteriously appears the next morning!

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LOCAL ORDINANCE: With the holiday shopping shifting to high gear, streets are clogged almost everyday. The stifling traffic again raises questions on the wisdom, if not the legality, of the selective ban on vehicles with plate numbers ending in certain digits.

We have held that an MMDA ordinance cannot be invoked to ban selected vehicles that are licensed under a national law and traveling through a national road. The ban may apply on municipal streets, but not on national roads.

To allow the numbers-based ban (at times erroneously referred to as "color-coding") would mean a local ordinance superseding or effectively amending a national law.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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