MANILA, January 31, 2004 (STAR) FROM A DISTANCE By Carmen N. Pedrosa - I wish former President Erap would stop making irresponsible statements. His warning "of civil war if FPJ is barred" does not speak well of himself nor does it augur well for the presidential campaign to May 2004. It confirms suspicions that he, whether in office or out of office, has no concept of law. In a democracy, the rule of law applies in contending positions, and the case of whether FPJ is a natural born Filipino is no exception. There are two sides to the question and it will be resolved by the evidences and the laws that govern the issue. By pre-empting that decision, Erap shows his ignorance of democratic processes.

His resentment towards the Supreme Court which legitimized Arroyo-presidency is understandable but misdirected. It should instead be directed at his allies in the Senate who voted not to open the envelope, thereby frustrating the impeachment. That was the catalyst of the breakdown of his government. It was only later, with his government in shambles, that the high court stepped into the picture for the sake of the well-being of the country.

Erap’s difficulties come from making too many Filipino style ‘cowboy’ movies in which he bang-bangs his way to get what he wants (allegedly for the poor). Someone should remind him that the governance of this country is not for the movies, but for real life. Civil war should not be so tritely uttered for the sake of political ambitions. Still, he had every chance to make good, to lead the country intelligently and prudently but he wasted it all without the slightest fear of the consequences of misusing the presidency. But I blame his more educated friends and supporters equally for the unhappiness it has caused him. But to go back to his threat of a civil war, I do not think Filipinos, except for a few trouble makers among his followers would sacrifice their lives and families for the sake of an actor or actors elected as presidents in the first place.

Wrong from the start. There was something oddly wrong with senators for FPJ taking the lead in grilling Ricardo Manapat. The line of questioning did not show an iota of impartiality or even a desire to find out the truth. The farce was heightened when Manapat said his work as a history student was on the Spanish Inquisition but no one laughed. It is good Rep. Raul M. Gonzalez, later pointed the anomaly of an investigation by Messrs. Angara and Sotto, the chief promoters of FPJ. From the start, despite all pretence by the senators, Manapat, whether he was guilty or not, would never have gotten a fair hearing. That was the heart of the issue. That there were other senators present who meekly followed the Angara-Sotto lead was depressing. It showed yet again that the present Senate is incapable of rising to higher standards of behavior. As Gonzales asked where is the delicadeza (propriety)? That point escaped the attention of so many when three, not two or one but three underlings of Manapat were only too willing to confront their boss. How could an investigation be carried out with Angara and Sotto at the helm? It had seemed then that it was a question of numbers. The word of the three was all that mattered. Unfortunately the other senators all but uniformly adopted hostility towards the hapless archives director, whether he was guilty or not guilty – they all wanted him fired. Remember, it was supposed to be a hearing. I would think that the senate chief, Mr. Franklin Drilon, could have at least questioned the propriety of the composition of the investigating committee. That was no committee to investigate but one loaded from the start in favor of FPJ.

The beginnings of debate. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s speech before the businessmen signaled a step-up for more intelligent debate among the presidential contenders. She has taken the lead that from hereon it will not be enough for candidates to give motherhood statements or platitudes on unity. It is important that a coherent platform be presented as clearly as possible, one understood by the masa who are the first to be misled by a popular movie actor wanting to be president. My driver tells me that among his neighbors the talk was that FPJ was going to give them jobs or those who already had jobs will get higher pay. Those are their expectations of an FPJ government. It is absolutely cruel to give them such false hopes.

Supports federalism. Capt. Michael B. Cyazon<>CLAP-CLAP-CLAP and more Claps on topics in your column. Best of all your comparison (or Henry Adams’s) of a head-of-state to a"Commander of a ship at sea." I guess, because I am a retired ship captain myself. On board ship we too have autonomy in affairs of the vessel’s many activities. The overall command of course rests on the Captain who prior to a voyage has to prepare a voyage plan. This is the vision. We take into account where to pass by means of the courses which are drawn out on the chart; how far from shore we intend to pass for safety purposes; the kind of weather we might encounter along the way; the fuel oil, provision, equipment and materials required for the passage. True enough without a vision, we may flounder, encounter bad weather and the vessel sinks, people perish, the cargo lost. Yet, it is critical that plans are executed not only with precision but with utmost care by sticking to what are the accepted procedures and practices. Coordination among the different departments or sections is necessary, otherwise, we fall into the rot that our own bureaucracy has fallen into. Count me as a supporter of Federalism.

On the businessmen’s invitation to FPJ: Abner dasigan <>wrote:
The businessmen invited FPJ not for an interview to find out whether he is fit to govern this country but to make sure that they will benefit from FPJ when he is elected as president. The businessmen know that they cannot do anything to stop FPJ from being elected as president. So, it is better to join FPJ to get a piece of the pie. Some of the businessmen maybe appointed to a cabinet position like Jose Pardo. I believe even if all the newspapers point out everyday that FPJ does not have the qualifications to be a president, he will still be elected as president because of the low IQ of Filipinos (sorry about this but this is the truth) and the TRAPOS. I hope the Filipinos in EDSA I and EDSA II will act now and not wait for FPJ to be elected and the d –– surrounding him to govern, which might be too late. They have done a lot of damage before. Can you please write something about what the organizations in EDSA I and EDSA II are doing about FPJ? I would like to suggest that the qualifications of previous good presidents of the Philippines and other countries be presented as headlines to enlighten the Filipinos, I hope.

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Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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