- Philippines -
Ist es nicht an der Zeit zu gehen...,Mr. Präsident?
Is it not the right time to go....,Mr President?
(Und nehmen Sie "Dirty Harry" Lim gleich mit!!! / And take "Dirty Harry" Lim with you!!!)
This story was kindly contributed by the organization listed below. We thank them for their kind guesture to allow us to publish the following article by Mr. Teddy Casiño, published in his column in Businessworld. All rights reserved by said party.
BAYAN, MIGRANTE International, 56-C Masikap Street, Bgy. Pinyahan, Teachers' Village, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES, Phone: 435-9152, Tele/Fax: 435-6929, E-mail address: email@example.com
Dear Mr. President,
Let me be the first to bid you farewell. You are on your way out of Malacañang and I thought it proper to say goodbye.
I know it has been a rather tumultuous two years for you. But you should have known better. After promising us that, under your administration, "walang kaibigan, walang kamag-anak (there will be no friends, no relatives when I do my job)," we have seen your friends and families rise in wealth, power and influence, mostly at our expense. When you said, "Huwag n'yo akong subukan (Don't test my ire)," we did not know that you meant us and not the corrupt government officials, influence peddlers and criminal syndicates that now surround you and permeate every nook and crany of your administration.
After promising that under your administration, the masa will come first, we have seen and heard how the workers, farmers and lower sectors are gnashing their teeth in poverty, hunger and helplessness.
After promising that your administration would usher in a knew era of patriotism and national dignity, we find ourselves with little reason to be proud of our country.
Let me tell you a secret. My dad and I campaigned for you in 1998. Oh, it was no big deal, but we spread the word around that an Erap presidency was what the country needed. I wanted you to win and I told my friends and relatives to vote for you. Like most Filipinos then, I thought that a bit of showbiz glamor, some swagger and a little whiskey would do the presidency good.
Like the underdog that you were in your movies, I thought you could sock it to the oligarchs, the local oppressors and the foreign imperialists. But before you could even take your oath of office, I knew we were wrong. Forcing us to accept the late dictator Marcos as a hero revealed your true colors too early in the game.
Siding with Lucio Tan in the PAL (Philippine Airlines) labor dispute, proclaiming Danding Cojuangco as the "Godfather of Agrarian Reform," and shoving the RP-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) down our necks showed us where you loyalties truly lay. By the time you and your ilk hatched your own version of Cha-cha (charger, or constitutional, changes), I knew it was hopeless. We had to get you out.
And that was less than a year into your term. It is so ironic that your good friend, Ilocos Sur (northern Luzon) Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson, would be the man to finally pull you down. It just goes to show that in this world, friendships are not everything. Neither is wealth, power or good sex. In the end, people judge you by your character, by your credibility as a human being, by your capacity to sacrifice self-interest for the good of the majority.
You failed that test, Mr. President, so it's time for you to get out. This is not to say that those before you passed the test. Cory Aquino had her own crimes, as did Fidel Ramos. They, too, had their own set of cronies. They were dirty, yes, but at least they had finesse.
Hindi sila garapal (They weren't shameless about it). The real tragedy of our situation was that your only crime was being garapal. You had no qualms about showing us what the presidency truly was -- an office of the elite, for the elite and by the elite. Well, the entire government has always been so, lorded over by big landlords, big businessmen, criminal syndicates and foreign monopolists. Because of this, the government has become a big burden on the people. It has become a self-inflicted scourge stunting the country's development. You are being punished for being the epitomé of all that is possibly wrong and rotten in our political system. Patronage politics, corruption, cronyism, puppetry, abuse of authority, fascism...name it, you have it.
Society needs a fall guy, Mr. Estrada, and you're it. I just hope that after you go, we would have learned our lesson. So, I guess this is goodbye and thank you, Mr. President.
We hate to see you go, but then, it would be worse to let you stay.
Mit freundlicher Genehmigung des PCIJ / With kind permission of PCIJ
Copy right PCIJ
Erap's Lavish Lifestyle!!
Estrada is unable to explain the lavish lifestyle of his wives and children.
by Sheila S. Coronel
PRESIDENT Joseph Estrada has a weakness for grand houses. Many years ago, he built one for the First Lady, a sprawling mansion at 1 Polk Street in North Greenhills in San Juan. Expanded and renovated over the years, the official family home now covers three adjoining lots with a total area of 2,000 square meters. There, surrounded by his collection of expensive crystal, Estrada likes to hold court for his clan and cronies. To mark his mother Mary's 95th birthday last May, the President had her Kennedy St., Greenhills home refurbished, a major renovation that converted the family matriarch's large, comfortable quarters into something close to palatial: high ceilings, a state-of-the-art kitchen, and a cavernous living room with a grand piano and exorbitantly-priced beige curtains. Last year, the President's mother celebrated her birthday in a two-story villa owned by the Ejercitos in Laguna. Built in 1912, the house had fallen to neglect after the Second World War. On the president's orders, however, well-known architect Chito Antonio gave it a facelift, the results of which were featured earlier this year in the glossy architectural magazine BluPrint. "Traditional elements were restored: capiz windows, the noble wooden floor, and decorative ceiling details," the magazine reported. The "Palace in Pagsanjan," as BluPrint called the villa, is apparently intended more as a "cultural landmark" than to be lived in. It boasts of a luxurious living room flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and adorned with modern paintings. Estrada's bedroom, BluPrint noted, has an "exquisitely carved four-poster narra bed," billowing drapes and French windows looking out to the garden Whether it is his own home or that of his mother or one of his wives, the President's architectural and design preferences tend toward opulence -- heavy draperies, antiques, carved wood and crystal. All these of course add up to princely sums. But especially extravagant, say those who have seen them, are the more recent constructions attributed to either Estrada or one of his special women. These homes have been described consistently as being done in a style in which it was obvious that cost was not a concern.
For instance, says an interior designer, a house supposedly for one of the presidential wives, in New Manila, Quezon City, features a swimming pool with real sand and a machine that churns artificial waves.
A two-story mansion being built on a 5,000-square-meter lot on Harvard Street in Wack Wack, Mandaluyong, has a mini-theater, a gym, a sauna and three kitchens on the ground floor and another upstairs. Until the furor over the construction made it too controversial, this house was supposedly designed especially for Laarni Enriquez, a long-time Estrada companion, and her three children. As far as we can ascertain, Estrada was already a wealthy man before he assumed the presidency. The dimensions of his wealth, however, are not reflected in his asset statements, and the President seems to think it unnecessary to go into any detail on just where he is getting the money to indulge what looks like an edifice complex. Not even when it is already raising eyebrows in Manila's gossipy café society. After all, constructions such as these in some of the poshest parts of town are difficult to hide. The houses themselves -- sprawling, palatial and luxurious -- demand attention.
That these houses are supposedly being built for women other than the First Lady only spices up the talk. Most important, these constructions are taking place in the first two years of the Estrada presidency.
The 5,000-square meter Wack-Wack property, according to land records, was bought in 1998 by presidential friend, businessman Jacinto Ng, when he took over KB Space Holdings, a company owned by the Roxas-Chua family, the original owners of the property. Construction on the site began in 1999. The New Manila property, land records show, was purchased from the Madrigal family only late last year.
IF THERE is anything that characterizes Estrada's conduct of both his public and private life, it is a lack of discretion. The President flaunts his extravagance and his generosity to the women in his life. He believes that since he has been open about the complications of his private life -- at least 11 children by six women and some other rumored mistresses -- then he should no longer be held to account. That is why he gets really ornery when he is questioned about these matters.
Estrada may have been right earlier in his term, when he admitted to his extramarital indiscretions and retorted to those who had expressed unease about his multiple liaisons, "You seem to be more concerned than my wives." But the lavish lifestyle of those wives and the cost of maintaining those liaisons are now being widely discussed and fast becoming a public concern.
To begin with, Estrada does not explain how he can support four households in such grand style. Apart from the First Lady Luisa Ejercito, Estrada has long-term relationships with three other women: former actress Guia Gomez, with whom he has a son, 31-year old Jose Victor or 'JV'; one-time starlet Laarni Enriquez, with whom the President has three children, the oldest of them, 15 years old; and ex-model Joy Melendrez, a Pasig policeman's daughter who has borne Estrada a son. On their own, these women are not independently wealthy. Yet Gomez is listed in records of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an incorporator and shareholder of 33 companies ranging from real estate to trading and manufacturing. All but one of these companies were formed since Estrada was elected to the Senate in 1987; 15 were set up during his vice-presidency and four in the first two years of his presidential term.
In August, Gomez told a group of women journalists, "I have shares in more than 33 companies, but I don't have money in all of them." She also boasted that she employed thousands and that she planned to set up more enterprises. Enriquez, meanwhile, has five companies to her name, among them Star J Management, which manages a mall in Malabon. Incorporated in 1996, the company declared assets of P45 million in 1998. During Estrada's tenure as senator, Enriquez was living in a modest townhouse in Sunnyvale, San Juan; later, she moved to the penthouse of the Goldloop Towers in Pasig. In the mid-1990s, after Estrada's election to the vice-presidency, Enriquez began living in posh Wack-Wack, on a 1,000-square meter property registered in the name of businessman and presidential pal Jacinto Ng. The land alone, at current market values, costs about P40 million, while rental for a typical house in that neighborhood is about P100,000 a month. When Estrada became president, preparations were made for even grander housing for Enriquez. That was when Ng bought the property on which the mansion supposedly being built for Wife No. 3 is being constructed. That piece of real estate is worth a fortune: At P40,000 per square meter, the going price for Wack-Wack property, its current value is close to P200 million. Melendrez has no companies registered in her name and no known source of income but lives in a big house on Swallow Drive at the upscale Green Meadows in Quezon City. It is not clear where these women -- or the President, if he supports them got the wherewithal to live in such style. According to JV Ejercito, the President was a successful movie actor and made substantial amounts from his films. No doubt he did. But there is a discrepancy between what Estrada declared in his statements of assets and his income tax return and what corporate records show are the rather vast holdings of his various families.
In July, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) revealed the findings of a four-month research based on the records of 66 companies in which Estrada, his wives and his children are listed as incorporators or board members. Altogether, these companies -- 31 of which were set up during Estrada's vice-presidential term and 11 since he assumed the presidency -- had an authorized capital of P893.4 million when they were registered.
The President and his family members had shares of P121.5 million and paid up P58.6 million of these when the companies were formed. It is difficult to estimate how much these businesses are now worth because of incomplete data at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). But based on available 1998 and 1999 financial statements, 14 of the 66 companies alone have assets of over P600 million. The President's official asset declarations over the last 12 years cannot explain where the funds to invest in so many corporations come from. In 1999, Estrada declared in his statement of assets a net worth of P35.8 million and in his income tax return, a net income of only P2.3 million. Since the PCIJ's report was published, however, Estrada has declined to explain the obvious gaps in his asset and income tax declarations and the SEC records. JV Ejercito, who taken up the President's defense, maintains that many of these companies no longer exist and that most of them were just small, "mom and pop" operations anyway. Ejercito, however, did not list which of the firms had been shuttered.
More to the point, his argument does not explain the disparity in declared assets and income and the lifestyle and multifarious business activities of the First Families. It is quite likely that some of the discrepancies can be explained by the carelessness of the President's accountants, who appear not to have bothered to prepare sufficiently credible declarations of assets and income that would explain the sumptuous lifestyles of the presidential women. But it is equally likely some of the funds in the President's possession are probably hard to explain, even by the most brilliant of accountants.
Copyright © 2000 All rights reserved.
PHILIPPINE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
Veröffentlichung mit freundlicher Genehmigung / Publication with kind permission
SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN'S POSITION
A Call to Resign or Impeachment!
The situation of our country is critical. The expose of Ilocos Sur Governor Singson on the alleged connections of no less than the President of the country with the jueteng underworld is causing economic and political turmoil. While the credibility of the political leadership has been seriously put into question, market stocks are crashing and the peso has taken a nose-dive to its worst level in history. Not a few observers have said that the worst is yet to come. In the meantime, as the entire political machinery of this government tries to fix the scandal, our efforts for economic recovery and development are once again stalled, if not side-tracked. The inevitable has come.
We believe that we are not going anywhere with this government, except in circles, weathering scams and scandals, one after the other. In the past two years under this presidency, no real work has been achieved because so much time and energy has been lost to defending this government, to damage-control efforts, to make-believing that it can work. We say, enough is enough. Tama na, Sobra na, pagod na kami! We therefore join the ground swell of public opinion calling for the resignation or impeachment of the President.
To the President, we say, we are no longer amused or entertained. We enjoin you to heed the sentiment of the public. Despite your regular disavowals, your presidency has been linked to cronyism, nepotism, graft and corruption, and now with the operations of the underworld. Not since the time of the Marcos government has the highest office of the land been as tainted as it is now. You have lost your credibility, Mr. President. In these trying times, we need someone with the political and economic competence and more importantly, the moral integrity to lead and guide us. This is the real world, Mr. President, not the movies. You are actually dealing with the fate and destiny of a nation and the lives of real people, especially the masa you have betrayed. The show is over, Mr. President. The fat lady has sung.
To our government officials, whether in the Cabinet or in Congress, we say, rise above party affiliations and loyalties. You have sworn to serve the people, not your political parties, nor an erring President. We call upon you to ensure that in the ongoing investigations, truth will out, justice be served, and no stones will be left unturned. To the Cabinet Officials, in particular, we say: we have followed your careers in the private sector where you have shown great competence and intelligence. We ask: why sacrifice your personal integrity trying to cover up for an administration that has again and again defied the moral sensibilities of the nation? How long should this farce or illusion go on?
Finally, we call upon the Filipino citizens. May we continue our vigilance over the recent events in our country. May we be firm and uncompromising in our stand for truth and justice. May we be united in our fight against graft and corruption in government. And may we be forthright when the need to manifest the power of the poeple is once again called for.
We make this statement after careful discernment and prayer
Willy M. Samson,S.J., Patrick Z. Falguera,S.J., Karel S. San Juan,S.J., Nono L. Alfonso,S.J., SIMBAHANG LINGKOD NG BAYAN, Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University, Tel. No. 426-6101 local 3440/3441, Telefax: 426-5968, Mailing Address: P.O. Box 257, UP Post Office 1144 Quezon City, Philippines
Wurde uns per E-mail zugespielt / Was sent to us by e-mail
ARTICLE FROM: THE NEW REPUBLIC: SEPTEMBER 25, 2000: 17 / Manila Dispatch
By JOSHUA KURLANTZICK
HERE'S TOUGH COMPETITION for the title of worst leader in the free world. In East Asia alone, you have Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, who sometimes naps during parliament sessions, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, guilty of so many gaffes that he brings cards with preprinted answers to press conferences. But every contest must have a winner, and recent events make it clear that Philippine President Joseph Estrada is the least competent democratically elected leader on earth.
When Estrada took power in 1998, his nation was among the bestsituated in Southeast Asia, boasting key ingredients for success in the global economy. Because of the country's history as an American colony, more than two thirds of the Philippines' urban population speaks at least conversational English.
Manila's Asian Institute of Management rates among Asia's best MBA programs in Asiaweek's influential rankings. And, unlike Singapore, Indonesia, or Malaysia, the Philippines is a vibrant democracy with more than a decade of liberal government under its belt. Upon returning from a trip to Manila, one Bangkok based CEO described the Philippines to me as "a fantastic country, just the place investors should jump into.'
But they aren't jumping. And, without a change in national leadership, it's unlikely they'll start. Since Estrada took power in 1998, the Muslim rebel groups Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) have stepped up their campaigns of terror, kidnapping dozens of locals and foreigners including, on August 28, American Jeffrey Schilling. The economy has remained stagnant since the Asian crash, while Singapore, South Korea, and other states in the region have rebounded strongly.
According to a secret World Bank report leaked to the press, graft is so prevalent that $46 million annually is lost to corruption. And the capital? Urban blight, thy name is Manila. The city's traffic and smog make Los Angeles look bucolic, and Manila's massive Payatas garbage dump, which the government had vowed to clean up, collapsed in July, killing at least 124 residents.
AND OVER IT all presides Estrada, a former Bmovie actor recently named "Best Reason to Doubt Democracy" by Asiaweek. Diplomats in the Philippines are hardpressed to name one positive thing the president has accomplished. Discussions With local political commentators almost inevitably turn to Estrada jokesjokes fueled by recent revelations by Estrada's chief of staff that the president sometimes makes policy decisions during late night drinking binges.
Estrada has established himself as the worst of all worlds: a leader who, in the tradition of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, believes all decisions should flow from him personally but who lacks the decisiveness, intelligence, or political cunning to carry out his pronouncements. Estrada simply swaggers around, announcing what he intends to do, ignoring ministers' advice, and trying to govern through executive decrees (he has issued more than 220 in two years) that he later ignores or reverses. Estrada or "Erap;'as he is known to his (dwindling) population of friends and supporters this year created an Economic Coordinating Council charged with resuscitating the economy. But he gave the council's technocrats little explicit authority and has consistently ignored their recommendation that the country move away from centralized, macroeconomic planning.
The Philippines will post around 4 percent growth for 2000, an acceptable figure but far short of South Korea's at least 8 percent or Singapore's projected 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, unemployment is higher than it's been in more than a decade, and a mushrooming deficit may stall the release of the International Monetary Fund's next $300 million loan installment.
While there is scant evidence the president has directed public funds toward his own enrichment, he has overlooked corruption among his friends and family. Christine Tan, a respected nun working with the poor, has charged the Estrada family with diverting charity funds to the president's son's pet projects, including an ambulance distribution program run by the League of Municipalities, an organization of local business executives. (A Senate committee later cleared him of charges.)
And Perfecto Yasay, chairman of the Securites and Exchange Commission, has alleged that Estrada tried to strongarm him into clearing multimillionaire buddy Dante Tan (no relation to the nun) of stockpricemanipulation charges.
BUT NOWHERE HAVE Estrada's shortcomings been more glaring than in his negotiations with the Muslim insurgency on the southern islands of Mindanao and Jolo. In contrast to former President Fidel Ramos, who had tried to make peace, Estrada almost immediately vowed "allout war" against the MILF and Abu Sayaff, poisoning ceasefire negotiations and tying his hands politically. Despite Estrada's confident predictions, it's doubtful that his under equipped army can win the simmering conflict, which has cost roughly 120,000 lives since the 1970s. But Estrada's recent attempts to temper his hardline stance have only made him look weaker still. After Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado repeatedly announced that the government would not negotiate with terrorists, Estrada (who had already gone through a handful of negotiators, meddling all the while) backed down in late August, allowing Libya to give Abu Sayyaf development aid" in exchange for the release of some hostages. In addition to garnering Estrada international criticism, the agreement enriched the rebels, who have used their "development aid" to double the size of their arsenal. Armed to the teeth, Abu Sayyaf kidnapped more hostages from a Malaysian island on September 10.
The result of all this flipflopping is that no one trusts anything Estrada says anymore. The Muslim rebels don't believe he'll keep his promises, so they fight when he pledges to crack down and take hostages when he vows not to pay ransoms. No one believes his pledges to ferret out graft, so the stock exchange slumps and corrupt soldiers sell weapons to the MILF. Manila's middle classes don't believe Estrada will address urban problems, so they organize massive antigovernment demonstrations. The Church never much trusted the womanizing president (who reportedly has fathered at least twelve illegitimate children) but has become still more disillusioned following his accidental pardon of a convicted priestkiller. Even the Filipino poor who swept the charismatic, populist Estrada into office two years ago appear to have finally lost faith in their champion. The collapsing stock exchange might not affect them, but government corruption has robbed them of needed aidthe World Bank report estimated that only 10 percent of government development money reaches its intended recipients.
Meanwhile, the war in the south, the nation's grain basket, has inflated the price of basic commodities. Even before the garbagedump collapse, Estrada's approval ratings registered as low as 5 percent.
Of course, the Philippines' misery cannot be wholly blamed on its president. The Muslim insurgency has been raging for decades; the economy was already a mess when Estrada took office. But Estrada hasn't addressed these problems; he's exacerbated them. Should his party lose its majority in Congress in the 2001-midterm elections, the opposition might impeach him. That would probably damage the Philippines' reputation as a stable, well functioning democracy. Then again, so might letting Estrada serve out his term.
Wurde uns anonym per E-mail zugespielt / Was sent to us anonymously by e-mail
FILIPINO, FACE THE MIRROR
The bomb has been dropped. A presidential crony and personal friend of many years, Governor Chavit Singson was considered one of the closest people to President Estrada, each being a godfather to the other's child.
Mag-kumpareng buo" twice over, drinking, gambling, and womanizers both, birds of the same feather. Erap and Chavit. Chavit says the relationship is over. And Erap is to blame. Chavit says that Erap began to treat him not in a way that a friend is expected to do, and thus deserves no less himself. What would make a long-time relationship turn sour, so sour that Chavit seeks to destroy Erap after Erap is suspected by Chavit of ordering or approving his death? What can negate the bonds of friendship which had survived good and bad times over a few decades? The public thinks it is Money, the greed for Money. And the public may be right, maybe not completely, but right novertheless.
Enter Atong Ang. The background of Atong Ang's relationship with Estrada is a colorful one. Atong Ang was brought into the Erap circle by Jojit Antonio, an original Erap friend. It is rumored that Atong Ang was brought in by Jojit to pick up the bill, so to speak, of a high-spending Vice-President and President-In-Waiting. And Atong Ang picked up the bill, generously, consistently. It was never clear where he got the money to do so, although it was clear that he loved gambling as much as Erap. Casinos and cock-fighting arenas were Atong Ang's favorite spots, and it was a common sight to see him in the company of a beautiful woman, of different beautiful women. One day, the friend, Jojit, is out of the Erap circle. The rumor was that he and Atong Ang could not get along anymore, and that Erap chose Atong Ang over Jojit for obvious reasons. The first sign of a character flaw of a man alleged to have many friends and knew how to keep them was exemplified by Jojit being "out of the kulambo" and Atong Ang "in na in". Money was the name of the game, plain and simple money. Jojit was a long-time friend, but Erap needed cash. For a few pieces of silver, as the saying goes.
Deeply hurt, Jojit vacates his hallowed spot in the inner circle as Atong Ang triumphantly takes over. From the outside, it seems that the Erap-Chavit split is a repetition of the Erap-Jojit break some years ago. It began with money, and ended with Erap choosing Money over old friendships. But Jojit did not try to destroy Erap after he lost his special place. Nagtampo lang siya at lumayo sa isang dating kaibigan. In the case today of Erap and Chavit, both are trying eliminate the other. The aggressor appears to be Chavit, but Chavit claims the opposite. And his story is more credible than that of the speculations favoring Erap. Jojit Antonio lived to tell the tale of an old friendship discarded because Money, in the person of Atong Ang, was valued more by a greedy Erap.
Jojit left quietly, and is now back in the fold in an emotional re-union of old friends. Chavit is fighting, and claims his life is grave danger from the likes of Erap and Ping Lacson. In fact, he says that the uniformed killers of the Kuratong Baleleng almost succeeded in rubbing him out last Tuesday night when policemen brandishing high-powered firearms intercepted him in a dark section in a Manila street for allegedly possessing a siren. Only his keen survival instincts honed by years of Ilocos Sur politics saved him as he refused to step out of his bullet-proof vehicle as ordered by the interceptors. The fact that his local officials were having a seminar in a nearby hotel also he helped as they responded to a frantic call for help by Chavit. The presence of many people, especially mayors from different towns, effectively disrupted what Chavit claims to be a brazen attempt to kill him. To be fair, however, Chavit had already decided on his course of action. It was not only the money, but the fact that Erap had chosen Atong Ang's word over his, and that his political empire - a lifetime's investment - was being threatened with extinction. What was being taken away from Chavit and given to Atong Ang was being shared with Chavit's political enemies in Ilocos Sur. They wanted him dead. They wanted his organization finished as well. Atong Ang and Ping Lacson were alluded to by Chavit as the ones who planned the hit, with Erap's approval. Chavit had minutes before talked to key members of the midnight cabinet which included Mark Jimenez, and had rejected efforts to bring him back into the fold. Chavit said that Erap and his midnight cronies knew where he was and also the route he would take to go home. And Ping Lacson was present while Chavit was engaged in that fateful phone call. Chavit surmised that after the phone call, it was clear to the group that Chavit could not be assuaged anymore from whatever plans he had of exposing many dark secrets. For that, his death sentence was promulgated, his execution scheduled, and the attempt was made but failed. All hell broke loose after that. In less than twenty-four hours, Chavit was singing his song to selected members of media - less the reporters under the payroll of Ping Lacson, Jimmy Policarpio, and Dong Puno. And the rest is a current history dramatically unfolding before the eyes of the Filipino nation and the world. The classic and stupid denials came in patterned intervals, first by Atong Ang, then by Ping Lacson. Erap is too stunned to react, except to squirm behind the scenes with a great gnashing of teeth at the unexpected turn of events. A neutered media surprises the nation and banners the story until it is given a fresh impetus by a privileged speech by an opposition senator. More classic and stupid reactions from lackeys of Erap in both in both Houses, reactions which are scandals in themselves. When there is window of opportunity, it will be pointed out to a now interested public that a member of the ruling party immediately said that an impeachment is impossible because the administration party had the majority of votes, Right and wrong has become less important than numerical superiority to this legislator who deserves to be lynched himself. And almost as bad is the reaction of Ex-Marcos cabinet men Blas Ople and Kit Tatad who asked for the removal and sanctions against a fellow senator who expressed through a privileged speech a truth which is by now common knowledge.
It remains unclear how the drama will end, if at all it will end. First of all, the drama has less to do with Erap and Chavit than with the Filipino people. The litmus test is on us, not with two kumpares who are parting ways because of money and power. All of us know that Erap is guilty as charged by Chavit, and that he is guilty of much more. If others take the same action as Chavit, if all the businessmen will talk of how they have been milked by Erap, the media will have enough stories for one whole year. All of us are morally convinced that Erap is a thief, a big one, maybe even the biggest one so far. But we tolerate it. Nakakahiya tayo. The accusations of Chavit will not prosper in a court of law, much less in a corrupt and compromised administration Congress. But we have declared Erap guilty, long before Chavit confessed to the nation. It is just that we have decided to allow Erap to steal some more, to kill some more, to rape our values, to shame womanhood, to destroy the moral fiber of our youth. We are as guilty as he is, and not as courageous as a desperate and repentant Chavit. Can we say we are sorry? Can we change the course of history and return traditional family values? Can we turn to the spirit, to God, and confess our sins, our weaknesses? Chavit is showing us the way, a strange but> fitting instrument for our dirty world.
Repent, Filipino. Reject the immorality. Cleanse our spirit. Find the courage of heroes. Choose good over evil. Take Erap out.
Donnerstag 12. Oktober 2000, 10:55 Uhr
Glücksspielaffäre löst Regierungskrise in Manila aus
Schwere Vorwürfe gegen Präsident Estrada
Manila (AP) Der philippinische Präsident Joseph Estrada gerät nach Vorwürfen der illegalen Bereicherung zunehmend unter Druck. Vizepräsidentin Gloria Macapagal Arroyo legte am Donnerstag ihr Amt als Sozialministerin nieder, will aber weiter Vizepräsidentin bleiben. Estrada wies den Vorwurf der Verstrickung in eine Glücksspielaffäre ebenso zurück wie die Rücktrittsforderung von Erzbischof Jaime Kardinal Sin.
Einen Sturm der Empörung lösten am Mittwoch Aussagen eines Provinzgouverneurs aus, wonach Estrada mehr als 530 Millionen Pesos (rund 25 Millionen Mark) von Betreibern illegaler Spielsalons erhalten haben soll. Estrada erklärte, er habe keinen einzigen Cent angenommen und sprach von einer politisch motivierten Kampagne. «Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass die Ermittlungen meine Unschuld beweisen werden», sagte Estrada in einer Fernsehansprache. Nach Angaben von Außenminister Domingo Siazon sagte Estrada seine Teilnahme am europäisch-asiatischen Gipfeltreffen in der nächsten Woche in Südkorea ab.
Vizepräsidentin Arroyo erklärte, angesichts der Vorwürfe könne sie dieser Regierung nicht länger dienen. Die Opposition kündigte an, sie werde ein Amtsenthebungsverfahren gegen Estrada einleiten.
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