The bombing in Cotabato City, which killed at least eight persons this week, had been predicted not by the police or any of warring political factions in that city, but by “Anonymous,” the blogger (or bloggers) who detailed the wealth-generating prowess of businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles. Yes, Anonymous’ compelling story about how Napoles got rich through “conversion” of military funds and, later, the use of bogus non-government organizations to kick back pork barrel monies to greedy lawmakers, included warnings that diversionary propaganda tactics like bombings would be used to distract a populace that was getting angrier each day over the scandal involving the high-flying former military wife.
The prediction reminds me of how a bomb was supposedly detonated at the Glorietta mall in Makati years back to make people forget about a scandal that was threatening to bring down the Arroyo government. The blast was later attributed to an alleged methane gas leak, even if that gas had never been known to cause such an explosive and lethal explosion before.
It didn’t matter. The mall operator eventually got what it wanted out of the incident, which was to have the explosion declared as an accident that had nothing to do with terrorism or some other malicious act; the government was able to live another day because the diversionary tactic obviously worked by elbowing any other corruption scandal out of the news pages.
But those were supposedly the bad old days, when there would be people desperate and callous enough to pull off such atrocious propaganda schemes. This is not supposed to happen in the time of daang matuwid, regardless of how obviously reluctant the Aquino administration and the current Congress are in going deeper into the Napoles pork barrel scandal.
But then, I’ve been told that some of the most ruthless spin masters of the previous administration have already long been working for Aquino and have now been enlisted in the effort to exonerate Napoles, as well. The right-hand man of one of Gloria Arroyo’s top advisers has long been taken on as a consultant in an all-important Malacañang office under this dispensation; this well-connected operative, who has excellent ties to media, is now reportedly doing the rounds of the press, convincing producers, editors and other top news executives that “killing” the Napoles story is also what, supposedly, Aquino wants.
Apparently, in some news organizations, mentioning that something is what the President wants is enough to kill a story these days. Amazing, right?
But the question is, is this administration incapable of staging diversionary bombings? I can’t really say; after all, this government has already tried almost every other trick in the propaganda playbook to take the pork barrel story out of the news, including having Aquino himself say that the Napoles scandal is a lot less serious than many other controversies that Arroyo had gotten entangled in.
In the battle for the hearts and minds of the people, who may rise out of their slumber if they are sufficiently outraged, no scheme, after all, is out of play—bombings included.
And if you still haven’t read Anonymous’ week-old online revelations on Napoles, I can only say, as the Good Book did: Seek and you shall find.
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Malacañang Palace, of course, has a different take on the recent bombings in Mindanao. “The handiwork of saboteurs of the peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front” is the common line emanating from the administration —which is still clueless, by the way, about the first bombing in the series which killed six people at a popular bistro inside the Limketkai mall in Cagayan de Oro City two weeks back.
But why is it, if the Aquino administration and its security officials led by Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and PNP chief General Alan Purisima knew the motives of the perpetrators, that not one suspect has been arrested in any of the bombings? Why are they so sure of who the masterminds are and yet have not gotten around to arresting anyone who may confirm that their theory is valid?
And, for the record, there have been at least five bombings that have been reported in Mindanao. These took place in Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato City, Midsayap, Datu Piang and Sharif Saydona Mustapha.
In all these cases, all the palace’s Prevaricator-in-Chief, Edwin Lacierda, could say is that the incidents “are still being investigated.” Goodness knows when the investigations will end—or if they’ve actually started already.
And the bombings were apparently not as unexpected as Roxas and Purisima would have us believe. After all, a full month before the July 26 blast in Cagayan de Oro, the governments of the United States, Australia and Canada already warned their diplomats against travelling to Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao in the wake of fresh threats of terrorism.
Personally, I’m not very confident that the bombers will ever be found, now that Roxas, the chief investigator of CSI: Philippines, is on the case. And if Roxas declares later on that exploding cooking gas canisters are the cause of the Mindanao blasts, then all bets are off.