Give the President an elbow-room

  • Written by Manuel L. Morato
  • Published in Opinion
  • Read: 223


Last Tuesday, January 9, this newspaper’s headline was “DU 30 Bests PNoy.” Totoo naman, no comparison at all. It’s like comparing apples and oranges; and the people know it. No matter what the survey says, it is easy enough to feel what this administration under President Duterte has done and is doing in such a short period of time.

On my part, once a new president sits in office, there should be cooperation of some sort for the country to move forward. I say this because that is what I did with President Joseph “Erap” Estrada.

For the duration of the campaign period in the 1998 elections, we had our differences, but once he was proclaimed as the next President, I never said anything wrong about him while in office, nor criticized him in my columns in this newspaper, including my TV and radio interviews. I simply kept quiet and allowed him to do his work and hoped for the best for country’s sake.

When he was being impeached by the Senate, I also refrained from making any remarks; neither did I join Edsa 2 for his ouster. As far as I am concerned, I have done my part and said what I had to say during the election period, which is actually to be expected of candidates from opposite camps. Note that Joseph’s mother and my mother were friends; Erap is my compadre and I always called him Joseph – never Erap. It was only politics that divided us for a while.

When President Estrada was granted house arrest, our close friend, General Bobby Calinisan kept on coming to my house inviting me to visit President Estrada in his house in North Greenhills. I told Bobby to please tell the President na wala na kaming differences. That’s all over. But tell him to stay where he is and I’ll stay where I am. Basta sabihin mo wala na kaming away. My thought was, anong sasabihin ng tao na pagkatapos kong awayin si Presidente Erap, ngayon ako naman ang lumalapit sa kanya.

After several attempts to invite me, Bobby understood my point.

One evening in 2009, at about 8:30 while I was still in my office in the PCSO in Quezon Institute, I received a call whose voice I did not recognize. Sabi ko: Sino po sila? Ang sagot ay: “Pare, si Erap.” We talked for a while and we are back to being friends again. We have met on several occasions in some public gatherings and everything is alright.

On the part of President Noynoy Aquino, I gave up writing columns in this newspaper and stopped our TV program, “Dial M” with Maggie de la Riva for that’s what PNoy and Margie Juico wanted. Not only that, Margie Juico even charged us in court for “electioneering.” We guested a group of ladies who were pro-Gibo. Those ladies did the talking. Why not, their freedom of choice and speech would have been curtailed, had we not allowed them to guest in our show. Maggie and I just listened.
“Dial M” was not a PCSO production, but an in-house production of PTV-4. “Dial M” was on an exchange deal. PCSO did not buy the time slot. The cost of the show was only P60K per show, per week. PCSO put 4 lotto commercials at only P15K each spot while in other TV stations its at least P300K or more per 30 second spot. “Dial M” was a public service program where everybody from all over the country could call in how to get medical assistance from the PCSO. But during the elections of 2010, phoned in questions turned to politics during the campaign period. Maggie and I had to answer their questions as truthfully as we could.
Maggie de la Riva was the PCSO talent to host the show for a miserable amount of P12K per week, after taxes. On my part as her co-host, I did not accept any payment at all for all the years I co-hosted the show.
“Dial M” was never reprimanded by the Comelec as they did the other TV programs. But Margie Juico sued us and filed a case in court. The court dismissed the case.
Please do not confuse the names MAGGIE, si maganda; and MARGIE for Juico.


President Duterte knows deep in his heart what is best for our people and country. I do not question his intentions. On the contrary, I believe in him and on my part, I’ll let him be. He is going towards the right direction. I can only hope that the obstructionists would give him the chance to serve our country well.
Up to now, I do not see another one in the horizon who can do what should have been done a long, long time ago. In other words, let the President define his presidency.
Presidents are judged after their term in office.
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