A power blackout to save GMA

- Boo Chanco -
In the usual lighthearted mood that is typical of the Thursday lunches of journalists at Myther’s, someone quipped that Jose Ma Sison was only trying to help GMA when he ordered the NPA to topple power lines. Joema only wanted to save GMA from being victimized further by this non stop "kuryente".

To those not familiar with the vocabulary of local working journalists, "kuryente" kind of means being given the false alarm. The first time it happened with the supposed surrender of an escaped kidnap suspect from Mindanao, we shrugged our shoulders and philosophized that things like that happen. The second time, oh well, she is probably just suffering a string of bad luck. The third time, you wonder if her aides are a bunch of incompetents or if she is being sabotaged.

But the "kuryente" continues. And the worrisome twist is that, it seems, paninindigan na nila yung mali. Or, how can one explain the refusal of both the NBI and Malacañang to acknowledge that they made a mistake in tagging a cashier of LandBank as a suspect in a tax payment scam.

Even if one accepts the explanation of the NBI that the cashier is still to be investigated, tagging her a suspect was still premature. Yet, no less than LandBank president Gary Teves vouched for the cashier, saying that she helped them crack the case as a whistleblower.

What happened at DPWH is more worrisome. While it was right for the President to pursue the cases against personnel who were part of a car repair scam, it is now turning out that the reputation of innocent people are being unnecessarily dragged through the mud. I am talking about the needless inclusion of two undersecretaries in the affair.

From what I gathered, the President asked why there are no "big fishes" in the DPWH car repair scam. So out of the blue, someone had the bright idea to drag in the names of two undersecretaries who had absolutely nothing to do with the case. They were not investigated for it and the respondents do not even directly report to them.

Some media reports say the undersecretaries were suspended for failure to report the anomalies. In other words, for command responsibility. If that is so, how come the assistant secretaries below them were not included. Yet, those charged in the scam reported to the assistant secretaries, not the undersecretaries. And if they are taking the rap because of command responsibility, why not go all the way up to the secretary?

I personally know one of those undersecretaries, Mabini Pablo or EQ to his classmates in our UP Prep batch 66. A more trustworthy person is hard to find. Proof of that is the inclination of classmates and schoolmates to elect him to the treasurer’s position in every homeroom and student organization he happens to be a member.

EQ comes from the very distinguished Fonacier family of Ilocos and has served government for over 30 years without a single blot in his record. How he did that while working in a bureaucracy as notorious as DPWH is something for Ripley.

EQ refused to talk about the incident beyond saying he has not received a notice for suspension. He just shrugged the incident as par for the course. But those of us who know him feel bad at this obvious injustice. If some people wanted his position, EQ would have given it up in a second. I know he had been trying to retire for the last couple of years after he underwent a gastrointestinal surgical procedure. He was told to stay because he was still needed.

Needed to be a sacrificial lamb, it turns out.
Police action
On the other hand, it is good to know that Ate Glo’s high profile war on crime is getting the police officers off their butts and out into the streets and trying to keep us safe. The other week, I carried the e-mail of a reader who complained about a gang of petty thieves preying on bus passengers in the Buendia/Taft area.

Last Thursday, I received this letter from Police Chief Superintendent Jose Gutierrez, Jr. of the Southern Police District that brings back our faith in our police. He showed us that we are not crying out in the wilderness for nothing.

"Please be informed that upon reading the news item, the Southern Police District immediately directed the Pasay City and Makati City Police Stations to act on the matter. The efforts of your policemen finally paid off when yesterday, Aug. 7, 2002 at 11 a.m., plainclothes personnel from the Pasay City Police Station foiled an armed robbery on board an air-conditioned bus along Buendia Ave. near Taft Ave., Pasay City."

The letter went on to relate that three suspects were arrested and recovered from them were a caliber .380 pistol, a fan knife and an automatic switch blade. Charges are being filed against the suspects. Assurance was also given that the police will always be responsive to citizen needs.

Just keep up the good work, sir.
Has the American consumer finally capitulated? The question is asked a little more often these days, after analysts characterized the July retail sales as "sluggish." That makes some investors nervous, the Washington Post reports, because the latter half of July marks the start of the all-important back-to-school shopping season, the second-highest volume period after the holidays.

Economists explained that economic uncertainty and a weak job market affected spending in July and most likely will continue to do so this month as consumers move their money out of the equity market, focus on saving and pull back on discretionary spending, the Washington Post summarized analysts reports.

It is the American consumer’s propensity to overspend that is keeping the American economy from keeling over, given the deluge of bad news from various economic sectors. Analysts are worried that if the American consumer capitulates, or stops spending as vigorously, the economy will see really rough times ahead.

Even the newly knighted Alan Greenspan has run out of pleasant surprises from his bag of monetary tricks. He can lower interest rates only to a point and it is at about that point now where it can go no lower and still have impact on consumer behavior.
A relative in high places
From reader Tony Choa, here’s today’s stress reliever.

A man suffers a serious heart attack and has open heart bypass surgery. He is in the care of nuns at a Catholic Hospital. As he is recovering, a nun asks him questions regarding how he is going to pay for services.

"Do you have health insurance," the nun inquires.

He replies in a raspy voice, "no health insurance".

"Do you have money in the bank?" the nun asks.

He replies, "no money in the bank."

She asks, "do you have a relative who could help you?"

He responds, "I only have a spinster sister who is a nun."

The nun gets a little perturbed and announces loudly that, "Nuns are not spinsters. Nuns are married to God!"

The patient replies, "Send the bill to my brother-in-law."

(Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is [email protected])

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