MANILA, January 21, 2004 (STAR) By The Way By Max V. Soliven - How neat. Director Ricardo Manapat, very obviously an Administration boy, testified against FPJ (Ronnie Poe) in the Commission on Elections, produced microfilms and something like 22 pieces of "evidence" casting doubt on whether Poe is a natural-born "Filipino".

His admission that he – Manapat Sahib, the Director no less of the Records Management and Archives Office – had personally combed through more than 500 rolls of microfilm allegedly stored in the National Archives to look for the marriage certificate of Poe’s parents, is luridly fascinating. How many bosses of vital government agencies (like the National Archives) would personally go through the arduous process of searching for a marriage certificate of long-ago vintage, say July 5, 1936? They would naturally assign such an eye-hurting, difficult task to a subordinate.

Microfilm records? To begin with, where are the original documents?

To compound matters, a suspicious full-page advertisement appeared yesterday in major newspapers and tabloids (including, sad to say, in this one) accusing FPJ of having a "faked" birth certificate. This sort of ad costs a considerable sum, but was apparently placed by a small agency.

It’s apparent that the Dirty Tricks season has begun.

As for pre-war documents, how many of them truly exist? Remember, most – if not all – records and documents in Manila, the Greater Manila area, and in major cities and urban centers, were destroyed during World War II, from the Japanese Occupation to the battles of Liberation.

We should know. When my widowed late mother (who had been in the anti-Japanese underground in Ilocos Sur) and I returned to devastated capital city on a military train, she wept inconsolably. Nothing was left of the Paco home in which we had lived, except ashes. Everything from the smashed bridges across the Pasig to the entire south, from the crumbled Post Office and the rubbled City Hall, all government buildings, all homes and structures all the way down to Baclaran and Parañaque, were flat.

Manila had been 85 percent destroyed by the Liberation fight.

What the Japanese Imperial forces had not burned or blown up in their orgy of rape, torture and mass murder (my father-in-law, a justice of the peace, had been tied to a post and used for bayonet practice), the Americans finished off, with their indiscriminate shelling and bombing. The trigger-happy G.I.’s and their artillery, and P-38 fighter-bombers ("Lightnings") I believe, were the ones who flattened much of Intramuros, our historic walled city, including beautiful and irreplaceable churches like Lourdes Church and the Church of San Ignatius, not to mention the Manila Cathedral which was rebuilt after the war.

Nobody questioned this after the war, naturally. How could we let our "liberators" shoulder any part of the blame, which belonged entirely to the hated and truly culpable Japanese?

In the light of widespread destruction almost everywhere (more than one million Filipinos died during the war, 100,000 of them in Manila alone), how can we have confidence in "microfilms" of documents suddenly appearing? Susmariosep. We must be among the most gullible persons on earth.

On second thought, with Enron, Worldcom, Elf-Aquitaine, Parmalata, and so many scandals and scams popping up all over the United States and Europe (not to mention the everlasting Nigerian Scam), I guess P.T. Barnum was right about suckers. He said that "there’s one born every minute."

* * *

As for Manapat, the former Manila Mayor, NBI Director, and ex-DILG Secretary Fred Lim (who’s running for Senator, with a strong showing in the surveys) confirmed that his criminal libel case against Manapat is still pending in court. He reiterated that Manapat, yep, the same Director, aba, of our National Archives, had viciously libelled him in his newsletter, the now defunct Smart Files. (How such a character with libel cases pending against him was appointed by former President Fidel V. Ramos, then later by President Macapagal-Arroyo to head such a vital agency dealing with people’s very identities, official documents, and even ownership and land titles, is mystifying. Sanamagan. I’m not comparing Manapat to Vlad the Impaler from Transylvania, but would Dracula have been placed in charge of the Blood Bank?)

Yes, Lim asserted: Ricardo Manapat is the same demolition writer who had penned Some Are Smarter Than Others during the Marcos administration, who had savaged the Cojuangcos, and who had attacked the enemies of his pal (his guru?) General Joe Almonte.

Lim said Manapat had once bragged he couldn’t be downed in court because he had kuno very powerful lawyers – Carpio, Villaraza, Cruz.

Oops. If true, don’t those names ring a bell? Are they "The Firm"?

You remember Tony Carpio, who was once Presidential Chief Legal Counsel of FVR, then afterwards the guy who finessed (according to that famous book of Justice Artemio Panganiban) GMA’s accession three years ago with the Supreme Court backing in January 2001 – the EDSA Dos anniversary which was commemorated yesterday, punctuated by Ibagsak-si-GMA Leftist rallies? Carpio is now himself an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by GMA’s appointment?

Pancho Villaraza is one of First Gent Mike Arroyo’s and GMA’s lawyers, in tandem with just-resigned Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Avelino "Nonong" Cruz, who’s currently one of the prime movers in GMA’s campaign juggernaut. Can GMA and the Palace credibly deny that their fingerprints are not on the current case?

Waw! What a coincidence.

Speaking of coincidences, as this writer revealed in this corner more than a week ago (Sunday, January 11), the lawyer Victorino X. Fornier, who filed the seven-page petition against FPJ in the Comelec, seeking his disqualification, is the younger brother and law partner of Andresito Fornier who had filed the petition to disqualify Fred Lim in 1998 when Lim was also running for the Presidency.

Lim told me yesterday that it had been Manapat who, again, "found" a spurious birth certificate purportedly identifying poor Lim as a Chinese, not a natural-born Filipino. "The Fornier disqualification bid," Lim growled, "helped ruin my candidacy!" What completed the destruction was the fact that the Comelec did not decide the case until the very last day, in short, just before election day itself.

Fred reminded me, in disgust, that the Comelec had waited until 5 p.m. on a Friday, the day before election, before ruling that Lim was genuinely a "natural-born" Filipino, fit to become President.

"I’m not flattering myself into claiming that I might have been elected President then," Lim snorted, "but that Fornier accusation, plus the eleventh-hour Comelec decision, totally crushed my Presidential bid."

It seems the Forniers are at it once more.

Will FPJ be disqualified? The prospect of it is stultifying. Are they not afraid of a possible, extremely violent backlash?

Pardon my paranoia, but I feel there may be a connection between the above "possibility" and the increasingly public support the Communist Party and the New People’s Army seem to be giving the challenger, FPJ. Perhaps in their twisted agenda, the dialectically-longed-for "revolutionary situation" could be provoked by an FPJ disqualification by the Comelec, which is already widely suspected of being controlled by the Palace. In such a situation, the Communists and their radical Leftist fronts might believe, Panday could be provoked into whipping the masa and his millions of supporters into anti-government frenzy, indeed, lead a himagsikan or Revolution. Starting, perhaps, with a march against Malacañang, worse than that assault on the Palace following EDSA Tres?

Thus, the NPA, with their 10,000 or so Hukbo cadres or "Liberation Army" guerrillas already in the field, could seize power under the unwitting but charismatic leadership of da King, an indignant FPJ.

Sure, this is just this crazy writer’s "imagined" scenario, but crazy things happen in kinetic situations. This is the way the Bolsheviks under Lenin, out of the blue, grabbed power in Russia in 1917, or how Fidel Castro stormed out of the mountains of the Sierra Maestra to eject the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Fidel’s predominantly middle-class supporters and revolutionary partners did not realize he would bring the New Cuba under Communist rule. (Patria O Muerte, Venceremos, had cried out El Caballo!)

* * *

Some people are trying to imply that the plot against FPJ was hatched by the other Opposition candidate, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, not the "innocent" GMA. It doesn’t wash. Manapat and Fornier are not Lacson fans or friends.

Suddenly, of course, Lacson – who’s been lagging in the poll surveys, eclipsed by FPJ, GMA and Raul Roco – has gained attention and importance.

If FPJ is "disqualified", as Lacson’s chief promoter, Makati Rep. Agapito "Butz" Aquino was quick to point out yesterday, Lacson might become the leading Opposition candidate.

In another crazy scenario, FPJ, instead of calling out for himagsikan or rebolusyon, could throw his support behind Ping, and the sympathy vote and backlash might indeed sweep Lacson into office.

Being long in the tooth, I’ve covered seven Presidents, and more elections than that. This is the worst political situation I’ve ever encountered in my career as a journalist. Nobody has any shame anymore. Candidates jump from one party to another. Outrageous actions are undertaken, without any respect for or fear of public opinion. Our public? Do they have any opinion? Or will the dam of their silent suffering suddenly burst – and our nation reap the whirlwind?

Have a care. That’s the warning I throw to our politicians. They are tampering with dynamite in a room full of burning fuses. I never wanted to sound like those professional doomsayers and prophets of fire and brimstone, but what’s going on is sickening.

* * *

Last Monday after Senator Ping Lacson was requested to deliver the Invocation in the Senate, and what he said was both inspiring and heartening.

My wife, who was present at the session in the course of hearings on the Department of Foreign Affairs budget (including her UNESCO’s), asked Lacson for a copy, and yesterday he handed one to her. It was entitled "A Wise God".

Here it is:

Today let us remember to thank God for His blessings. For He never fails to do what is right for us.

'When we asked God for strength, that we might achieve, We were made weak, that we might learn humbly to obey. When we asked for health, that we might do great things, We were given infirmity, that we might do better things. When we asked for riches, that we might be happy, We were given poverty, that we might be wise. And when we asked for power, that we might have the praise of men, We were given weakness, that we might feel the need of God. We asked for all things, that we might enjoy life, We were given life, that we might enjoy all things. We got nothing that we asked for, but everything we had hoped for. Almost despite ourselves, our unspoken prayers were answered. We are, among all men, most richly blessed, We are, His children, whom He loved so much. May the love of God be with us, always'. AMEN.

What a marvelous prayer this is.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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