Monday, July 25, 2005


Erap's Secret

The Secret of the Estrada Presidency
Sheldon Ferma
Sunday, 07/24/2005

There are secrets and there are secrets. So that many more may know, it is thus told by an insider about former Pres. Joseph Estrada, that actually Estrada struck a deal with his predecessor in 1998, then Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, that he will be made president but that he will sit only for one-half of the term, that is equivalent to three (3) years.

Terms of Installation

The deal provided that Speaker Jose C. de Venecia will not be allowed to win in the 1998 presidential elections. Whether there was animosity between de Venecia and Ramos, it was not mentioned. Speaker de Venecia became bitter after the defeat and as many as his friends were who came to offer solace, it took time before he was able to recover from the doldrums. the problem was that his “friend” Ramos deliberately did not give him any money. Until the last days of the campaign, the people of de Venecia waited and waited, but no funds came.

That came to be corroborated by the part in the story where purportedly, truckloads of money were delivered by Gen. Jose Calimlim, then Ramos’ Chief of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) --- who was surprisingly made to stay over as PSG Group Commander at Malacañang and even supposedly introduced by Estrada as a “close relative”.

Some of the other deliveries of huge amounts of money on the other hand, were said to have come from the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) then under Miss Alice Reyes and other deliveries were made by retired AFP Col. Virgilio Vigilar, then the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) of Ramos. Both Alice Reyes and Virgilio Vigilar were also given holdover status after Estrada assumed the presidency.

Deal Makers, King Makers

The deal to make Estrada President was allegedly struck by the Dr. Jesus Ejercito, brother of the then Vice President Joseph Estrada with incumbent Pres. Fidel Ramos. And so Estrada became, or more appropriately was made, the President.

Ramos man (and former Marcos operator under the former Ministry of Local Government head, Jose Roño from Samar) Ronaldo Puno, now Representative of Antipolo, repeated the Sulo Hotel Operations of Ramos, this time for Estrada. Estrada won by a staggering lead. He purportedly got between ten to eleven million votes and was declared a “majority president”. The Estrada propaganda machine painted Estrada as being loved by the masses since he got more than the magic number of votes to win the presidency. He won by a landslide.

On the other hand, mysteriously Dr. Ejercito died suddenly as soon as Estrada took his oath of office at Malolos, Bulacan. Estrada had to suddenly fly to the United States to attend his brother’s funeral.

More than one year later, misfortune allegedly befell the Estrada camp when Ramos or an emissary started reminding him to prepare relinquish his post as agreed upon. The people of Estrada stalled and prayed for more time, invoked the name of saints and angels to make a miracle happen.

Lacson, even asked Estrada to kick out Sec. Ronaldo Puno from the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) --- suspecting him as a plant of Ramos.

Lacson submitted to Estrada at several pieces of paper supposedly detailing his resignation, wherein he (Lacson) said: I am resigning because of the following: .... and he continued to name the anomalies of Estrada including killings that have been ordered by Estrada when he was infuriated, mad, in the splendor of his drunken stupor.

Estrada capitulated and Lacson's resignation was not accepted. Lacson's next move was to push his endorsee, Gen. Alfredo Lim to the vacant position of Secretary, DILG. That is how Puno lost his post and as he is in now the good graces of the First Gentleman, his having been booted out of the Estrada government served him good. Sec. Puno, at present is closely linked with the President's husband, First Gentleman Juan Miguel T. Arroyo. It was bruited about in the gossip mills that Puno and the First Gentleman belong to the same fraternity.

Some say that Estrada already liked the idea of being President and that he himself, not only his closest people like Lacson, wanted to stay in power. Nevertheless, he followed the advice of Lacson and those of his other confidantés in Malacañang to just stay as President and not step down. There seemed to be no other more acceptable choice. But titillating as it was, at the back of it --- staying in the Palace for more than the time frame agreed upon --- still was the gentleman's agreement between Ramos and Dr. Ejercito.

To make the story short, Estrada did stay and nonetheless was booted out of power. His last stand was at the bay of Pasig River where some of his Cabinet members bid him farewell. At the final moment, he made the short trip across Pasig to the PSG compound on the other side of Malacañang and was possibly airlifted to his house in San Juan.

Now, the Estrada wives, their children and his former bright boys at Malacañang – notably Lacson and Jejomar Binay who was his Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman during his regime, among others, are trying to bring down Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (HE PGMA). They are working very hard to make people believe that PGMA is no longer popular. That people no longer trust her. That people think everything she is saying are lies.

If you read between the lines, the Estrada group thinks they have the right to get back and enjoy the rest of their heyday in power. However, whether there was or there wasn't any deal at all between Dr. Ejercito and Ramos, nobody seems to be saying. Even Estrada himself would rather that it was kept secret. With Dr. Ejercito dead, and with Ramos, a man who keeps his cards closest to his chest all the time, who can tell the people the real truth about how de Venecia, standard bearer of the party in power, lost to a candidate who had no political sense and energy to be President and who got strapped to a stretcher each time he got tipsy or real drunk?

What does the truth about Estrada’s presidency imply? It means simply that the elections that propelled Estrada, were a farce. Estrada’s camp knew that it was. And so they are using it now as a vital and key issue in removing PGMA from power because they know the ins and outs of it.

If this claim of Estrada’s presidency being obtained by way of a deal is true, then Estrada had his share of power and his people were supposed to have enjoyed their time at the helm of the country, without ever having to work for it. It was handed to them in a silver platter. Just because they would just not heed the terms of their agreement so they were driven out.

Yet now they have the gall to reclaim power that is no longer theirs. Lacson is at the forefront of this battle. And now, the anti-PGMA movements even claim to have the support of DE LA SALLE UNIVERSITY, ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY, and the University of the Philippines, among so many other Universities.

In defense of an Estrada return to power?

If it will be for the comfort of the anti-PGMA movement, the political organization of Estrada that was used by Fernando Poe Jr., as well as the skimpy machinery that Poe and his allies created for him, did not even decently campaign for the presidency. In the urban centers and provinces, they fielded the least number of poll watchers.

They allegedly hatched the OPLAN NO DEFEAT which provides that the political opposition will not agree to PGMA becoming President. They will oppose her election and installation to the presidency at all costs.

Today, one would ask, how much did it take to make Estrada a president? Estrada certainly did not spend decent money there. It was Ramos, using PAGCOR, DPWH, and Malacañang intelligence and discretionary funds.

On the side, there was the money from the drug lords, gambling lords, kidnap for ransom groups such as the PAROHINOG GROUP that gave no less than 700 million pesos to Estrada through Lacson.

After sitting as president, Estrada raked in millions in dollars and billions in pesos using many front men, like the much-vaunted palace chimoy (domestic helper, runner) allegedly a former bugoy (bum, vagrant) and long-haired drug addict look-alike, Jaime Dichavez, whom Estrada and his legal people call the owner of the account at Equitable Bank! Dichavez was resented by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), then led by Estrada appointee former Rep. Vicente Rivera. Dichavez cornered all the projects of DOTC, supposedly in the name of the First Family, and held day long series of meetings at the conference room of the DOTC. He was the DOTC pipeline to Estrada. He was almost the secret secretary of that department holding his office at the conference room of the Office of the Secretary.

Who is Jimmy Dichavez?

Dichavez did not use to wear a decent shirt until he started making money from the Antonio clan of mandaluyong that are closely associated with Estrada. Now Dichavez is is supposed to "own" a condominium or a string thereof, several fast luxury cars, SUVs, but all of these are courtesy of Estrada and company.

Dichavez himself is nothing, simply nothing. He may have jumped also into illegal drugs outside of his former job as salesman of two-way radios and communications devices and equipment spare parts but even that would not have made him a billionaire several times over as the Equitable Bank account suggests.

If Estrada did not spend any decent money in getting the presidency, but earned a huge skim together with Panfilo Lacson, Andrew Gonzales, Edgardo Angara, Horacio Morales, John Osmeña, Teresita Aquino Oreta and several others during his administration, Estrada and his cronies have a lot of spending money now.

It was apparent that they too did not help FPJ. The man was bereft of any substantial financial support. That is probably why he showed no presence in the precincts and in the polling centers in most of the areas in the country.

Therefore, today, they must have much money in store to engage in destabilization. They will be able to afford the cost of feeding rallyists and demonstrators from the squatter colonies of metro manila and paying them compensation after the rallyists attendances are checked.

Estrada even had the gumption to tell his mother, Mary Ejercito that her next birthday would be Ok. That probably, he told her, that the Estrada Family’s problems will be over.

During the two and a half years at Malacañang, the Estrada administration with Lacson at the helm of the PNP, Santiago Toledo at the National Bureau of Investigation and Gen. Jewel Canson at the anti-drugs superbody, almost every street’s nook and corner in impoverished parts of Metro Manila turned into a drug retail outlet.

The Estrada regime were killing Filipinos by bleeding them of money for illegal numbers games and quasi legal games like BINGO TWO BALL, among others.

The question now is why should the people ever trust Estrada? Why should they trust Lacson? Or Aquilino Pimentel, the cousin of Estrada's estranged wife, who is now Sen. Luisa Pimentel Ejercito. Or Jejomar Binay, the Mayor of Makati City who is leading protest rallies in the financial district himself to the consternation of the leaders and workers of businesses in that City?

The supposed civil society people and Liberal Party elements who together with former President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino and a then missing military component tried to ram the idea of “supreme sacrifice” of resignation to the President's mouth. The armed component’s supposed MANIFESTO came a little much later, but the message is hollow and trite.

Finally, who will solve the whoddunit puzzle: Who killed Dr. Ejercito? Was it because his name was purportedly affixed on the documentations of entire van loads of drugs from China being transhipped through the country to US and other destinations? Or was it because of the deal to make Estrada a president at least for only three years?

It is certainly doubtful that Dr. Ejercito merely killed himself or died from natural causes. There was too much at stake in the deal he had made with Ramos. The truth will be made known someday. Meanwhile, Estrada and his minions, and now joined by the opportunist civil society elements who have nowhere to go but government from where to steal funds to line their own pockets as they did with the money of European and American funding organizations’ assistance for the poor, and the Communist Party of the Philippines members, among other fellow opportunists are creating as much noise as they can by shouting in all forums from Congress, Senate, Coffee Shops, convention centers, to the streets that PGMA should resign or else she will be ousted by a revolution.

They should all be ashamed.

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