Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Marcosian Gambit

Today’s generation may no longer remember it but in the months prior to Martial Law, Manila was rocked by a series of bomb explosions which then-President Ferdinand Marcos blamed on the communists. At that time the students almost daily were holding protest rallies in the cities and the New People’s Army (NPA) was actively recruiting peasants in the countryside. The rally of the Liberal Party was disrupted when two grenades were lobbed at the stage, injuring almost all the LP senatorial candidates and countless others in the crowd. The “last straw” was the attempted assassination of his Defense Minister, Juan Ponce Enrile and soon after Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972. Fourteen years later, Enrile himself admitted (during the tense days of the 1986 People Power) that the attempt on his life was fake, an “ambush-me,” which the Marcos administration staged to justify their placing the Philippines under martial rule.

I am bringing this up because last week I heard over Aksyon Radyo an intriguing news report about the latest police findings on the grenade attack on the Trenas ancestral house in Molo, Iloilo City. According to the report, PNP-SOCO investigators found the grenade’s safety lever pin within the walls of the Trenas property. This only means that the grenade was thrown from inside the property walls. It’s either that or the perpetrator was some kind of ninja who was able to sneak close to the property wall, throw the grenade (plus the safety lever pin!) over the 8-foot fence and then make his escape without being detected by the bunch of road construction workers who are bunking directly in front of the Trenas ancestral home. But this theory is being discounted by police investigators as highly improbable because no one ever throws the grenade and the grenade’s safety pin together. Every grade 5 student knows that once you’ve popped the safety pin, you are supposed to scamper to a safe distance because most grenades have only five (5) seconds before they explode and you do not have time anymore to pick up the safety pin and throw it, moreso in the same general direction that you lobbed the grenade. This to me confirms what many pro-Gonzalez people are claiming that the recent spate of grenade attacks is nothing but a case of “bomba-me.”

When I first heard Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. accuse Mayor Trenas of masterminding grenade attacks on his own properties, I was incredulous. His thesis was too far out and so outlandish that it is easy to dismiss it as the ramblings of a senile old man. I mean, who in his right mind would bomb his own house? But on deeper analysis, Secretary Gonzalez does have a point when he said over radio that his family has no history of violence (in fact, it was his house that was strafed a few years back) and that the person who has politically benefited (in terms of public sympathy) from the bombings is actually the “victim” himself Mayor Jerry Trenas. Recall that even before the grenade attacks, Mayor Trenas had already labelled the Gonzalezes as the “Ampatuans of Iloilo.” Even before there was any disturbance or any election-related violence in the city, Mayor Trenas has already called on Comelec to put under its control. But in order to succeed in convincing people that the Gonzalezes are as abusive and violent as the Ampatuans, and in order for Comelec to justify placing under Comelec-control, there has to be some level of violence or threat of general disorder in the city. And because of the grenade bombings, Mayor Trenas has succeeded in ousting the Iloilo City police chief Melvin Mongcal whom people perceived to be close to Secretary Gonzalez. People even claim that Trenas will be getting property damage insurance from the grenade attacks. As such, whether he admits it or not, the chief beneficiary of the grenade bombings in Iloilo City is the good mayor himself. That is why I cannot help but suspect that someone within his camp thought up this brilliant "Marcosian gambit" to checkmate the Gonzalezes and secure their victory this coming election.

I think that when he first decided to go against the Gonzalezes, the good mayor thought that he could attract a significant number of barangay leaders to his camp. But things did not go according to his plan and, as it turned out the Gonzalez group has remained largely intact with 158 out of the 180 barangay captains firmly behind the Gonzalezes. By now, Mayor Jerry knows that he cannot match the formidable campaign machinery of the Gonzalezes man for man. So the only way really for him to win this election is if he can gain the sympathy of the people. Indeed, in the last few days, I have noted a slight “re-tooling” of the Trenas campaign strategy by capitalizing on the grenade attacks and adopting an underdog posture. The recent “indignation” rallies, prayer gatherings ostensibly for the “safety” of the Trenas family and appeals to the people’s sense of “lu-oy” (pity) for the deaths threats and harassment his family members have been supposedly getting from the Gonzalez camp are all designed to win public sympathy and make their campaign into a sort of “crusade.” Only time will tell if Mayor Trenas will succeed in convincing Ilonggos to join his “crusade” and vote for him this coming May 10 elections.

As for me, all I can say is that someone is playing a very dangerous game and I do hope that, whoever that someone is, I sure hope he stops this grand deception before anyone gets seriously hurt.

No comments: