News Commentary

Miriam urged: Go ahead, jump

"Keep your promise."

The ruling People Power Coalition (PPC), quoting two militant organizations, dared yesterday opposition Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago to keep her word and jump off an airplane.

The PPC was referring to a threat by Defensor that she would jump off an airplane without a parachute if deposed President Joseph Estrada is arrested for the capital offense of plunder.

A PPC statement said the Akbayan and KOMPIL II have both offered to buy a plane ticket for the feisty lawmaker "so she could jump off the airplane in case Erap (Estrada) is arrested."

The statement quoted Akbayan spokesman Joel Rocamora as saying it is only fitting for Santiago "to be true to her word" because the people are taking notes of the promises of each candidate in the May 14 polls.
"It (Miriam’s promise) is still fresh in our memories. Even when she uttered in previous campaign that she would shoot herself if the PPC wins 13-0 this coming election, these words are still vivid in our mind," Rocamora said.

He said election promises "are no-joke stuffs," and Santiago’s words and actions have compromised her.

KOMPIL said nobody would believe her anymore if she reneged on her promise.

Meanwhile, the so-called text brigades buckled down to work yesterday to spread around the message "Talon, Miriam, talon (Jump, Miriam, jump)!"

Another message stated; "Piso para sa plane ticket ni Miriam (P1 for Miriam’s plane ticket."

Yet another message was selling "front row tickets at Rizal Park for Miriam’s one-time performance. No re-runs."

Not to be outdone, pro-Estrada texters also sent out messages urging their colleagues to join a "big rally tonight’ at EDSA Shrine."

"Light a candle and march to (Camp) Crame," the text messages added.
As night fell, some 1,000 Estrada supporters reportedly trooped to the EDSA Shrine in Mandaluyong City for the projected people power III.

The people of Zamboanga City were also reported to be gingerly awaiting for the "greatest air stunt" yet to be performed by an inexperienced sky jumper.

"It would be more dramatic that the arrest of Estrada," a member of the academe told The STAR.

However, Zamboanga City Mayor Ma.Clara Lobregat, a staunch supporter of Estrada, was saddened by the news of his arrest. "It’s a pity. I don’t think he deserves it. I know the man. He was sincere in his development efforts for Mindanao when he was president."

Campaigning in Davao City, Santiago called on their supporters to shun violence but be prepared for people power III in protest over Estrada’s arrest.

She vowed to raise funds in order to charter a ship that would ferry their supporters from Mindanao to Manila to join the rally.

Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, for his part, said other Estrada supporters could take other means of transportation in going to Manila.

However, she said the arrest of Estrada left the opposition with two options: to continue their campaign or boycot the elections altogether as part of a passive resistance movement.

Santiago hinted, though that the opposition coalition Puwersa ng Masa-Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino has yet to weigh their options.
"As a lawyer and as a senator, I call on the Filipino people to participate in a mass passive resistance or civil disobedience movement against a regime that can no longer be characterized as democratic," Santiago said.

She added that civil disobedience is aimed at what is perceived as bias and unreliable judicial system in the country.

Enrile, a key figure in the 1986 people power that topped the Marcos dictatorship, said he was willing to go back to EDSA in response to a call for another popular uprising.

He deplored the excessive show of force displayed by the Arroyo administration in arrested Estrada and his co-accused.

Former Senate President Edgardo Angara, a lead candidate of the opposition, said they can only express regret over the timing of the arrest and the "indirect but obvious harassment that took place before the arrest." — Shiela Crisostomo, Roel Pareño, Cet Dematera, Edith Regalado








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