“If there’s one thing that President Marcos must show to the people this early, within the first 100 days of his administration, is that he has zero tolerance to graft and corruption, and that whoever will try to pull an anomaly cannot get away with it and must be held accountable”
The death of former President Fidel Valdez Ramos was a personal loss to me.
Eddie, as those who knew him and to his many friends, was a likable person.
There were many occasions when he used to invite the regulars of the 365 Club to play golf with him at the Pangarap, the rest house of the President across Malacanang.
Since I don’t play golf, as the only co-founder of the 365 Club still alive, all I could do was to watch the regulars of the 365 Club play golf with him.
The 365 Club, which still meets weekly, (but, since the pandemic started, only via zoom), had no formal structure, no list of membership, no constitution and no officers (since I am the only living co-founder, I proclaimed myself as chairman emeritus.)
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I used to visit Eddie at his office where he had his memorabilia and there we would swap stories about the past and present.
I cannot forget the time when, after he won the 1992 presidential election, he was a guest speaker at the weekly Monday breakfast meeting called “Kapihan” at Manila Hotel, which I used to attend.
After the breakfast, he took me aside and said, “Emil, you be my Press Secretary.”
I was taken aback, since I could not imagine myself as a government functionary, much more a Press Secretary who had to apologize for a President when he commits a mistake.
I answered him, “Mister President, I know a better person who would be your Press Secretary — Rod Reyes, who is now a senior vice president of ABS-CBN. All you have to do is to ask Geny Lopez, who is the chairman of ABS-CBN.”
I believed he did because Rod Reyes soon became Ramos’ press secretary.
I wondered for quite sometime why Eddie Ramos wanted me to be his Press Secretary. I soon found out since I was a regular at the Wednesday Club at Dasmarinas Village.
My personal relationship with Eddie Ramos continued.
There was this instance when the late Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Fidel Purisima, a distant cousin, knowing how close I was to President Ramos, asked me for help to have him appointed to the Supreme Court.
I had been told by my late mother, who was a Pacis, that the Pacis family of Magsingal, Ilocos Sur was somewhat related to the Purisimas of San Ildefonso, Ilocos Sur.
Thus, when I had occasion to talk privately with President Ramos, I told him that Justice Purisima of the Court of Appeals wished to be in the Supreme Court.
President Ramos then told me in confidence that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo approached him to name Renato Corona, who was then Chief of Staff of GMA, to the Supreme Court.
I then told Ramos, “Mister President, Purisima is my relative, you can name Corona, who is younger, next time.” Ramos then announced his appointment of Purisima.
What is tragic about this event is that when Purisima retired, he did not even invite me. I was told that he believed his appointment to the Supreme Court was because of somebody else.
Another event I recall was when the relationship of then Defense Secretary Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile soured after the ascension of the late Cory Aquino to power in 1986 after that 1986 People power revolution that ousted and had the late President Marcos exiled.
Recall that both JPE and Ramos, together with Gringo Honasan, broke away from Marcos. When Cory became President, she named Ramos Secretary of National Defense, who had to stop the nine, I repeat, nine coup attempts against the Cory government. The result was that the relationship between JPE and Ramos soured.
When Ramos became President in 1992, it became clear that JPE and Ramos, the heroes of that four-day breakaway from Marcos, were not on speaking terms.
I distantly recall that somebody, a certain General Cruz, approached me at my usual get together with friends at the 365 Club in the Jeepney Coffeeshop of the Intercontinental Hotel and wanted to talk to me.
General Cruz asked me to have JPE and Ramos meet privately – and I said I would try.
I told then Senator Rene Cayetano that somebody talked to me for Ramos and JPE to talk privately. “Sure.” Cayetano said, “I’ll talk to JPE.” Cayetano was then the partner of JPE’s law office, PECABAR. Thus, I introduced General Cruz to Cayetano.
I was then told by Cayetano that it was arranged that Ramos and JPE would meet at Hotel Mandarin.
Cayetano told me that Ramos and JPE met privately at Hotel Mandarin and the two shook hands. This was my contribution to the peaceful settlement between two heroes.
My friendship with Ramos lasted until he died. Eddie even wrote, together with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the foreword to my book titled, “The Road Never Ends,” on my memoirs as a journalist for over 74 years.
As the remains of Eddie Ramos gets into bed at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, I repeat my lament, Goodnight Sweet Prince, may the flight of angels sing you to your rest, my good friend.
• • •
If there’s one thing that President Marcos must show to the people this early, within the first 100 days of his administration, is that he has zero tolerance to graft and corruption, and that whoever will try to pull an anomaly cannot get away with it and must be held accountable.
And their “heads must roll” – as the saying goes.
That anomaly by the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management that bought “pricey” and outdated laptops for teachers for the Department of Education is a case of an anomaly.
How in the world can the PS-DBM justify laptops costing more than P50,000 when everybody knows that a mid-range working laptop can be bought for only P15,000?
And why are those laptops for sale if they are outdated?
And the total amount of the PS-DBM purchase cost no less than P2.4 billion. Santa Banana, those geniuses at the PS-DBM must think that the people are that stupid not to smell a rat!
Now it’s that importation of 300,000 metric tons of refined and raw brown sugar by the Sugar Regulatory Administration without the clearance of President Marcos, who is Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and also Chairman of the SRA.
To prove that President Marcos has zero tolerance to graft and corruption, he must make “heads roll,” and right away, to show to the people his determination against graft and corruption.
My gulay, those geniuses at the SRA must think that they could get away with what they did.
All these attempts to commit graft and corruption must be stopped right away, and to show that President Marcos means business, I repeat, “heads must roll.”
The Procurement Service must be abolished.
Those who are behind attempts to pull one over the President must be held accountable and must be fired.
Graft and corruption cannot be totally eradicated in government, but BBM must show zero tolerance to make those thieves in government know that there’s a President now that they cannot fool around with, my gulay.
I can agree with the observation that President Marcos is doing very well during his first days of his administration.
There are of course still the many challenges he has to face like the escalating prices of food, including rice, which BBM must resolve sooner or later, which affects every household in the country, poor and rich alike.
There’s also the domino effect of high fuel prices which also affects jeepney and taxicab drivers, likewise bus drivers and all those taking public transport.
While the number of jobless Filipoinos has gone down, there are those crying out for more jobs, but President Marcos is trying his best to address those challenges, fully aware of them when he was still a candidate.