• Yes, I ‘saw’ President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, but . . .

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    Emeterio Sd. Perez

    SOME readers of The Manila Times who also read Due Diligencer posted comments on the piece, “Look what happened to Erap.” One suggested that I was defending former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada. Another accused me of owning shares in BW Resources Corp. (BWRC), asking me point-blank, “How many shares of stocks you have with them? And when did you buy it (sic)? And you still believed Erap is honest and not corrupt like Gloria?”

    I am assuring our readers and my editors that I have never invested in BWRC shares. But I admit that at one time or another, I had a few shares in GMA Network Inc., among three or four listed companies, because as an observer of the local stock market, I felt I needed to experience the pain of losing and the joy of winning from investing in listed stocks. I have liquidated them all long before joining The Manila Times in January last year.

    What I have in my possession today are not certificates of ownership of shares but documents in connection with the investigations conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission on BWRC. Because I think nothing has yet been written based on them, I have properly indexed them and I am keeping them for posterity. These, along with the affidavits of Erap’s appointees-turned-witnesses against their patron, are among the mementoes of an incomplete and frustrated impeachment process in 2001.

    Some may ask why I am not making the documents public by writing some pieces based on them.

    Why hurt the people who are now private citizens of the only country they call their own? Besides, those papers have nothing to do with the members of the Senate triumvirate who only see the “silver lining in the horizon” that could possibly propel them to higher elective posts. As a matter of fact, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and his sister Pia would not rejoice over a revelation that these documents contain and what these would mean to the memory of their father as a senator.

    What’s the point of writing the piece on Erap?

    My mention of the name of the former president in the title was only incidental. As a matter of fact, this particular piece was intended to remind lawmakers that private companies fall under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Securities and Exchange Commission. They may be, more often than not, the apple of politicians’ eyes, but only during two seasons, which are election season and Christmas or holiday season.

    It is easy to explain the holiday season with this question: Why would some businessmen and their families spend their vacation in December outside the country if not to avoid politicians who call on them but do not sing Christmas songs? Perhaps, these dirty politicos know only how to collect to fill their pockets with cash.

    As for the election season, the Commission on Elections should have in its files the names of the campaign donors of candidates for elective posts such as those who ran for president, senators and district representatives.

    More importantly, the Erap-titled Due Diligencer piece was a public reminder that the Senate investigation into what has become the infamous BWRC scandal did not produce the “in-aid-of-legislation” justification. Why should the Senate then prolong or worsen the agony of the private sector over worries of a potential congressional inquiry that could become an effective tool to harass businessmen?

    Don’t get me wrong. I never meant to defend the Philippine Stock Exchange and the companies listed on its board for public trading. The exchange management and the very rich families that own listed companies are too rich to need Due Diligencer to do any lawyering for them. Besides, I am not a lawyer.

    Finally, I am writing for the first time about former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in response to the comment I quoted in the first paragraph above, which was posted by someone who identified himself as “Rene Catalasan.” I would presume that’s his real name, although one can easily disguise himself/herself under an assumed identity.

    Although I have not been asked if I have met GMA, I have to admit I “saw” her for the first time in a social gathering many years ago when she was still a senator. Several years later, on Feb. 16, 2001, I “saw” her again when I was one of the prosecution witnesses in the failed impeachment of her predecessor whom she invited to join her in a dinner held at Malacanang’s Heroes Hall.

    Notice my use of the word “saw” inside a pair of parentheses. This is intended to convey to the readers of this paper to take it literally; that is, that I had seen her but, as a reporter, I had not interviewed her as president because she was busy entertaining everybody. In short, I was only a member of an audience whom she shook hands with as an expression of courtesy to her guests.



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