Philippine Commentaries

Read Malaya's daily commentaries on economic and political developments that shape Philippine society. Veteran Filipino journalist Joy C. de los Reyes is the paper's editor-in-chief of Malaya, an independent daily newspaper in the Philippines. To visit Malaya's website, just click the Malaya link below.

Monday, June 19, 2006

‘Low-level’ bombings

(This was published Saturday, June 17, 2006)

The recent spate of "low-level" bombings, which has been owned by the newly emerged group Tabak (Taong Bayan at Kawal), has so far been purely for show. The bombers appear to have no intention of harming people and destroying property. But how long will this state of affairs last?

The military and the police said they have already identified the people behind the attacks. They said the perpetrators do not belong to the political opposition. They have also not tagged the usual suspects, the communist rebels. So by a process of elimination, that leaves rightist groups seeking to overthrow the Arroyo administration as the suspects.

If indeed the rightists are behind the attacks, the speculation is that these bombings are an exercise meant to expose the government’s vulnerability. These are also likely meant as a subtle warning to the AFP and the PNP that two can play the game, that they are open to retaliation over the crackdown on rightist groups and their leaders.

The PNP and the AFP have said they have launched a manhunt against the perpetrators. Let’s see how this new war conducted in the shadows plays out.

The fear is that if the PNP and the AFP succeed in taking out the bombers, those who succeed in evading arrest will launch a wave of attacks that will be for real this time around.

The alternative scenario is that agents of the Arroyo administration are themselves responsible for the bombing wave to justify the declaration of a state of national emergency or even martial law.

There has been credible information coming from friends of the Palace that the hawks who now surround Gloria Arroyo are seriously entertaining the possibility of martial law. The administration’s recent efforts to suppress dissent – the calibrated preemptive response to protest rallies, Executive Order 464 and Proclamation 1017 – have all been thwarted by the Supreme Court’s striking down of their repressive provisions.

The administration, in effect, has shot all its arrows, save for the declaration of martial law.
Palace officials have denied any plan to impose martial law. The denials, however, have come from congenital liars like national security adviser Norberto Gonzales. They are, thus, less than reassuring.

Maj. Gen. Jose Angel Honrado, spokesman of the AFP, has also scoffed at the reported plan to impose martial law. He said there is no anarchy in the streets as was the case in the months leading to the imposition of martial law in 1972.

Right on cue after Honrado’s statement, the bombs started exploding.

Coincidence or design? It’s probably the latter given this administration’s desperation to stay in power.

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