Is GMA really worse than Erap?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-11-03

Because of the Information and the Education Gaps, our masses are easily mesmerized by false prophets. One of the most corrosive of these false prophets was pardoned convicted former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada who formally announced last October 21 in Tondo, Manila that he is running for 2010 president.

“This is the last performance of my life. And I will not fail you” — Erap exclaimed. He made what can be considered a Freudian slip. In a way, he was admitting that he failed previously. Referring to his role as a movie actor — that is exactly what is all wrong with the ousted Estrada administration. Estrada was simply acting like a president and cannot be deemed as somebody who truly performed his mandated duties as president.

His work ethic violated the norms of behavior for public officials. His own Chief of Staff confirmed in a book that he drank heavily and indulged in high stakes mahjong games which lasted up to the wee hours of the morning. This lifestyle caused him to devote the least amount of working hours as a president.

The late Monsignor Nico Bautista was scandalized every time Estrada was seen receiving Holy Communion. Monsignor Nico used to tell COPA members: “With whom did Erap sleep with last night? Did he make a sincere confession before receiving Holy Communion?”

Estrada and a crony were blamed for a stock manipulation scandal that caused the Philippine stock market to nose dive and worsen for the country the severity of the Asian Currency Crisis. Under his watch, the Philippine peso went over P50 for every US dollar — prompting Taipan Lucio Tan to predict that the peso might sink to as low as P100 to US$1. Estrada claimed that he was “para sa mahirap” (for the poor) but his mismanagement only made life for the poor more miserable.

He is now facing a possible indictment for the Dacer-Corbito murders, following the testimonies of two former police officials directly involved in the crimes. In a Senate speech, Senator Panfilo Lacson suggested that Estrada was linked to the disappearance and murder of casino employee Edgardo Bentain.

My God! What’s this, Mr. Estrada? Is this the track record of a country’s president or the trail of mortal sins committed by a capo di tutti capi — the boss of bosses — of a Mafia crime family? Don Michael Corleone receiving a prestigious Vatican award in The Godfather III movie was pure fiction but it is a fact that Estrada was elected president of this country.

With a straight face, Estrada slammed incumbent Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA). Estrada sounded as if his own sins were venial compared to what he alleged as GMA’s grievous transgressions against God, people and country. Estrada sounded like he was a genuine reformer trying to improve the people’s lives when GMA and some “elitists” conspired to oust him from the presidency.

Your Chair Wrecker is no GMA fan and a visit to my website ( will show the many issues that we have hurled against her regime. But it is not being truthful to say that Estrada was the lesser national catastrophe compared to GMA.

If we were to gauge who did better for the economy — GMA is hands down the better economic manager. From the over P50 versus the US dollar during the Estrada years, the peso is now stable and just hovering between P46 to 47.50 against the US dollar. Despite the world economic crisis, the Philippine stock market remains lively.

Under Estrada, per the ADB Major Economic Indicators, GDP growth went from 5.2 in 2007 (the last year of President Fidel V. Ramos) to — 0.5 in 1998, 3.2 in 1999 and 3.8 in 2000. It rose to 4.3 in 2001 when Estrada was ousted as president. Per the September 2009 CIA World Factbook, from 2003 to 2008, under GMA the country registered GDP growth of 4.60 (2003), 4.50 (2004), 5.90 (2005), 4.80 (2006), 5.40 (2007) and 7.30 (2008).

Per Biznews Asia’s Tony Lopez, under GMA, “In GDP terms, the economy expanded from P3.63 trillion in 2001 to P7.42 trillion in 2008, a 104-percent increase or a doubling of the size of the economy. That’s equivalent to an average 13-percent gain per year (104 divided by eight years).”

The problem has been the perennial failure to ensure that the poor folks get a share of the growth. The poor have hardly benefited from these rare economic upswings. No more than 10% of Filipinos corner 80% of the national wealth.

That GMA may appear to have chalked more demerits than Estrada is perhaps due to a longer tenure than being the greater evil. Thank God that we only had to undergo two and half years under Estrada. We are now on our eighth year under GMA.

Loi Reyes Landicho, The Professional Heckler whose site ( recently won the 2009 Philippine Blog Award, had the right words to say regarding Erap’s second run for president. Loi said in his October 22 posting: “If you haven’t had enough of (natural disasters) “Ondoy’ and “Pepeng,” then, vote for him.”

It’s suicidal to give Estrada six more years.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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