Surprise

Two on-going investigations in the Senate are headed for contrasting fates. There is the obviously orchestrated and highly-politicized demolition job on Vice President Jejomar Binay. And then, there is the urgent and imperative probe into the ill-fated Mamasapano assault. The first one is obviously intended to topple Binay from his perch as the run-away survey leader in the race for the presidency in next year’s elections. The second is a must so justice can be served for the fallen 44 commandoes. This is not to say that the allegations against Binay are completely untrue and devoid of proof. It is too early to say so. What is clear is that even before the investigation commenced, some senators have already formed their conclusions. In contrast, the second is barely scratching the surface. There is much that remains a mystery into why one of the country’s best fighting units literally found itself at the mercy at the hands of insurgents. The first has started to bore (that is if it has not done so yet) the otherwise drama-crazed couch potatoes. You can’t blame them because it is obvious that it is politics, and nothing else, that is driving the senators to go hard on Binay. On the other hand, the second continues to generate anger, and its derivatives, among a large number of Filipinos who cannot make heads or tails over what happened in sitio Tukanalipao. The first largely involves issues surrounding the Binays and the city of Makati which the headline-hungry inquisitors insist to impose on the rest of the country, issues that should have been resolved by local voters....

Long time

Who’s next? This is the question many people are asking in the light of the brazen daylight murder of broadcaster Maurito “Chairman Mau” Lim. That’s the most logical question to ask. It is a good question because the murders in Tagbilaran have grown more methodical and conspicuous each time. The perpetrators no longer seem to be afraid to fire at their target wherever and whenever it is convenient to do so. And considering that authorities have little success, or luck, in solving them, there is little reason for the killings to abate. Criminals are wiser than many people think. They know that a culture of fear works best for them. Whenever there is a vacuum, the lawless takes advantage. When there is a breakdown in law and order, expect those who live on the fringes to take over. Of course, that is assuming they have not done so yet. So whatever happened to the intelligence funds of both the provincial governor and the city mayor? Good question. They will always have answers, or maybe just refuse to answer, and it doesn’t mean much. Their answers, or lack of it, won’t matter for as long as the killings go on. So who’s next? Will it be another broadcaster or media person? Will it be a politician, a business person? Will it be a private citizen: a professional, an office worker, laborer or a fisherman? It could be anybody – a bachelor, a widow, a student, the neighborhood toughie or a child. The possibilities are virtually limitless, but we can only shudder at the thought that it just might happen, anytime....

Miracles

Now it is out in the open. The killing of broadcaster Maurito Lim has made a people in other parts of the country realize what is happening in Tagbilaran City and Bohol. Chairman Mau’s killing is not the first. There were others before him who were murdered in cold blood. But because they had little claims to prominence, all they got was a few moments of attention. To be sure, this is not about Chairman Mau. It is his affiliation to the media which just happens to have the means to spread the news around. And with that the media has the ability to exert pressure on those who should be held accountable. For sure, the number of murders in Tagbilaran and Bohol cannot compare to those in other places conceded as virtual killing fields. It’s even “safe” by other estimates and therefore might not be a cause for alarm. But Tagbilaran and Bohol should not be compared to other places because they have always been peaceful. The rise in the spate of killings therefore should rightfully alarm not just the national media but the Boholanos themselves. So what went wrong? Is it the lack of access to communication? That is doubtful. The present tenants of Capitol and city hall pay a hefty sum just to project the image that those tenants want of themselves. Is it lack of institutional support? That would be debatable. The last time we checked, the reason given by the butterflies when they fluttered to the new ruling party was that this would give them access to the new rulers. So what went wrong?...

The worst

Just days after the call for a “non-killing” society, a broadcaster is shot dead outside Station DyRD. Engr. Maurito Lim, Chairman Mau to his radio listeners, succumbed to a bullet wound that entered his left jaw and exited his right ear. It is too early to say if the cold-blooded murder was work-related or personal. Whatever the motive, the point is that the killer, and those who sent him (in case they are not the same) were not listening. That is precisely what we pointed out in an editorial that ironically came out just days before Chairman Mau was killed. Was it prophetic? No. It is all about common sense. What do we do when criminals are not listening? The solution certainly is not holding another peace summit. That won’t get us anywhere, not in a province that has increasingly gone violent in the last year or so. So spare us of more saliva please. And cut the crap about waiting for the results of the investigation. True, we need a complete investigation to know the truth, identify the gunman and his cohorts, if any, and send them to jail, or out of this world – whichever comes first. The point is that there have been more killings in this city in the past year than an entire decade before it. There is more to them than just the statistics involved. It is the deterioration into a culture of violence never seen before. So what do we do now? The last time concerned citizens expressed their displeasure, Capitol apologists hunted them down like they were the ones who should...

Promising

The present capitol occupants recently held a power summit recently. It came on the heels of the peace summit where former University of the Philippines president Jose Abueva pushed for a non-killing society. It looks like the Chatto administration is on another summit-holding spree. As it has done in the past, there is nothing on paper that does not look good. And yet, aside from those who are paid to be active in it, few outsiders are excited. Why? They have heard that before, they know better. There was a fish summit many years ago ostensibly to address the suspiciously high prices of fish in the market. It is suspicious because Bohol just happens to be an island province surrounded by seawaters. That being the case, fish should be abundant. And being abundant, then it should at least be affordable, if not cheap. But ask anybody who has been to the market recently and they’ll tell you that is not so. The summit was therefore a promising event because it promised to address the problem which affects every fish-eating family in Bohol. And aside from that, it affects every fish-eating visitor and tourist that comes to Bohol. You know what happened. Not only that the summit did not yield any concrete results that would at least identify the source of the problem, worse it did not solve the problem. We are worse off than before the summit. Worse because we spent public funds for an even that was good only as a sort of intermission but brought nothing in return. It would have been better if the funds were...

Running

It’s all about running. Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay virtually admitted this without saying it. The younger Binay reiterated what has been obvious all this time: Vice President Jejomar Binay Sr. is running for president. No, make that still running. To the mayor, the declaration was needed in the light of the relentless barrage of allegations against his father. Any lesser mortal would have succumbed to the option of calling it quits if this is what is needed to stop the bleeding. Indeed, there is no denying that the seemingly unlimited assault on the honor of the Binay family is related to his intention to run for president in next year’s elections. That is there for all to see. There is no need to belabor that because Binay himself said. The vice-president must have thought he was just being honest. As subsequent events showed, he was just being naïve. Binay’s potential rivals, and those who fancy themselves so, were naturally and sufficiently motivated to throw in the kitchen sink at him. They had enough reasons to do so given the fact that Binay consistently topped the surveys. It would be premature to pass judgment on Binay with regards to the allegations raised against him before the Senate. People may hastily form their own conclusions, so Binay’s foes are stepping on the gas. The point here is not that Binay may be probably guilty or not. Considering the proof of bias shown by the senators who want no less than his scalp, there is no other result people can expect out of this. Rather it is also about the obvious...

Assumptions

To say that the revelations made by PNP Director Getulio Napenas before the Senate is explosive would not do justice to the word. Napebas has declared under oath that he was instructed not to inform Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina about the mission to arrest or kill high-profile targets Zukifli bin Hir and Abdul Basit Usman. This naturally led to the conclusion that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III would have to own responsibility for the operational fiasco that led to the death of 44 highly-trained Special Action Force (SAF) commandoes. There is no other conclusion one can get out of such an assertion. Aquino critics did not waste time not only to lambast him but even as far as calling for his resignation. It did not help that the President committed more blunders when he was not around to welcome the bodies of the fallen 44. Even resigned Presidential Assistant Panfilo Lacson has gotten into the act when he commented that the President broke the chain of command when he did not inform Espina about it. Lacson, of course, has lately been increasingly visible, fuelling speculations that he may be entertaining a second run at the presidency after a failed bid in 2004. No one can fault the former senator if he does. There is no law against it. The Mamasapano tragedy, however, shows the difference between a faithful subordinate like Napenas and one who has ambitions for higher office like Lacson. Napenas does not mind getting the flak. Lacson joins the firing line. Perhaps belatedly realizing how damaging it can be to Aquino, handlers now...

Legal

To say that the revelations made by PNP Director Getulio Napenas before the Senate is explosive would not do justice to the word. Napenas, the relieved commander of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF), appeared before the Senate committees on public order, peace and finance Monday in connection with the disastrous operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao. Among other things, Napenas confirmed under oath that he did not inform Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP officer-in-charge Leonardo Espina were not informed about the operation. Instead, it was suspended and now resigned PNP Chief Alan Purisima who was on top of the situation. Purisima virtually acknowledged his role but tried to mitigate it by saying he merely “advised” Napenas not to inform the two about it. “Advise” and “order” are two different words when taken in the context of their legal and official definitions. However, in the culture of the military and police, a very thin line separates the two. A superior officer does not give “advise” to a subordinate. Under the “obey first before you complain” principle, subordinates do not enjoy the privilege of asking questions, let alone decide based on their own judgment. So for Purisima to say that his was merely an “advise” is a dangerous proposition. Unless it is subsequently proven to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to extricate himself from complicity and accountability, it is revolutionary. Can you imagine what will happen to such an institution as the police establishment, and the military, suddenly allowing subordinates the freedom to reject an “advise” from a superior? Unthinkable. Unless he is...

Stop

The call to launch an all-out war against Moslem rebels for the killing of the gallant 44 in Mamasapano, Maguindanao is an attractive idea to many people. It is for those who are suffering from the pain, and from those who are just angry. To the loved ones of the departed, it is like the promise of relief at the end of a nagging toothache. But will inflicting pain on another remove your own pain? It may, or may not. So that’s not a very reassuring option. Emotional and psychological healing takes time. It won’t happen overnight. Some can get over it in a matter of weeks but spend a whole lifetime to no avail. The search for justice is another thing. It is something that can preoccupy certain people who won’t rest until justice is served to their loved ones. Obsession is a very strong emotion that can drive people to do better, or worse, depending on one’s mind frame. This leads us to the question: will war lead to closure? Going to war for the savage death of 44 people is like burning the house down to kill the termites. It does not promise anything but a vicious cycle of violence that will not end. The war to subjugate the Moslems in Mindanao has been going on for centuries. The Spaniards failed to win it, the Americans followed suit as did different administrations that did not know what it was getting into. True, the relative peace resulting from the unsuccessful peace agreements by different presidents make war an attractive option. And yet, it does not necessarily invite...

Formidable foe

Whatever her critics say of her, former Carmen Mayor Conchita “Che” Toribio is going to be a major player in next year’s polls. Her stature was confirmed by an unlikely source: likely opponent Rep. Arthur Yap. A report that came out in this paper said Yap remarked that Che will miss the opportunity to become governor if she runs for congress instead. The story, which was based on a statement released to Station DyTR, told a lot of things in what it did not say. That’s how one should approach a press release: look at what it omitted. First, Yap did not have to say that Che will miss the chance to become governor. He did not have to say that because the former mayor obviously wants to serve in that capacity as shown by her failed bid in 2013. Yap, however, did not go as far as saying she is qualified to do so. The incumbent third district solon won’t go that far for obvious reasons. To do so would be to give recognition to Che, something that would be to her advantage. And yet, without directly saying it, Yap virtually confirmed Toribio’s stature as a player worth reckoning in that she can run for either governor, which Yap wants, or congresswoman, which would not be to his liking. In the same news item. Yap virtually confirmed an earlier Bohol News Today report that no less than Vice President Jejomar Binay does not want to see a clash between Yap and Toribio because he has expressed his support for her Capitol bid. This paper earlier reported that no...
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