Punchline

People Power “2019” went pffft

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

LAST week, I found it hard to believe that someone would actually threaten Caloocan Bishop Pablo David. Worse, I found it very suspicious mainly because of the timing and the characters made to play out a contrived plot.

Note: There was no prior leak to media of any reported threat directed at any of the bishops by CBCP, Rappler, Phil. Daily Inquirer, PhilStar, Bulletin, ABS-CBN, GMA7, etc.   How was it possible that a big story like a threat on the life of a bishop would escape even the pro-opposition media establishments?

Randy David is a columnist of the Phil. Daily Inquirer. Surely, he as the bishop’s brother, would have been the first to know of the threats but curiously the Inquirer never played it up on the day Randy “learned” of it.  

So, why was the threat story had to be made known through a seeming innocuous letter read by the bishop’s brother, on the last day of People Power celebration? It made mention of police presence and discussions with the police yet the threat was not even reported as validated by the police or NBI.

Here are what I also found suspicious-  

–       Randy read his brother’s letter on February 26 (last day of People Power 86 celebration) during an event critical of the government – the awarding of the Ka Pepe Human Rights Award – at the De La Salle College where La Salle Brother Armin Luistro holds sway. The other awardee was Rappler’s Maria Ressa. (And I don’t recall an annual event dispensing Ka Pepe Human Rights Award at any time in the past).

–       The event and the letter were made public two days after the political opposition staged a public rally to mark the observance of the 1986 People Power with calls for PDU30s resignation accusing him of “dictatorship”.

–       Bishop David was made the target of the “threat” and his “letter” to be read by his brother, the respected columnist and sociologist Randy David who were both obviously accessible to the media. Why not Archbishop Soc Villegas in Dagupan City? Or the other bishops? Could it be because Bishop David as the “victim” has a credible brother like Randy?

–       Rappler’s Maria Ressa was unusually unresponsive to the situation. So was Archbishop Villegas. President FVR was conveniently absent when this was to be his yearly “day of glory”! Only VP Leni Robredo and Sen. Risa Hontiveros were quick to issue their melodramatic response to the revelation about the death threat.  Did they know something the public didn’t know?  

In short, I cannot but suspect that it was scripted as a climax for the “2019 People Power” rally to transform into an indignation and protest rally, ala 1986.

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ABOUT THREATS. Throughout the decades of the church’s history, the only members of clergy who were targets of vengeance or retribution were those who have clearly abused members of their dioceses involving rape, drugs, financial scams, absence of paternal support, etc. But to be threatened for political beliefs and for being critical of the drug war???? Duh?

My sense of it is, it was scripted to make President Duterte’s very recent public statement in January 2019 to “kill the rich bishops” the trigger to make people “angrier” and join the political opposition’s rally during the People Power rally that started in February 24, two days earlier. 

Curiously to this day, Bishop David has not turned over his cellphone to police investigators, neither has he accepted the offer of the police to provide security detail.

Gosh, nowadays, people in assassination business don’t make their presence felt with death threats. They just waste their targets casually. Death threat for Bishop David?

Why would a “die-hard Du30” supporter or a tambay even think of threatening a highly visible personality like Bishop David and not risk immediate exposure and arrest with the technology already available to our NBI and PNP?  

Besides, what is that the clergy and the Liberal Party are capable of doing to hurt the government that they deserve to be eliminated?  Nothing that they have not done and they hardly made a dent to weaken public support for the government.

Mercifully and thankfully, the scripted death threat plot failed to fire up and create public indignation a la 1986. Only the people in the opposition appear to continue to be under the illusion that President Duterte is so evil that people can’t wait to overthrow him. 

People Power ‘86 cannot ever be recreated or duplicated. Its failed promises made sure of that. I doubt if even a call from Cardinal Sin’s protegé, Archbishop Villegas will do the trick.

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OPLAN KATOK? It is gratifying to know that our police have the full data on which guns of licensed gun owners have expired. It means the police have the data on the law-abiding citizens.

However, what the police have no data on are the guns in the hands of criminals and guns-for-hire.

Hence, here is something worrisome about the ongoing Oplan Katok of the PNP requiring the licensed gun owners whose firearms’ licenses have already expired to surrender and deposit their firearms with the police for safekeeping, before, during this period and before the elections in May.

There is no doubt that Oplan Katok’s objective is aimed at bringing about a safe and orderly election though this policy but the surrender of the firearms with expired licenses is what the guns-for-hire will and exploit.

Since Oplan Katok already identified which licenses of firearms of gun owners have not been renewed, this data alone already establishes accountabilities of gun owners. In other words, any criminal act found to have been committed with the use of the firearm with expired license can already make the owner accountable. 

In short, the gun owner with expired licenses cannot escape accountability whether these are surrendered or not but to surrender the firearms at this time when guns-for-hire are picking out their target victims, it makes the gun owner vulnerable and easy target by crime syndicates knowing their targets are unarmed and cannot fire back.

And since the police cannot possibly protect all individuals, there is no reason for the police to leave the registered law-abiding gun owner completely without protection.

In brief, police at this time must allow the gun owners who know and feel that their lives are threatened to take the risks of being found to be carrying firearms without renewed licenses but feel secure that he will not be an easy target.

During these unusual and emotional period, the responsible and law-abiding gun owners must be allowed to feel secure against the criminal syndicates. After the elections, then and only then should they be required to have their licenses renewed or be told to surrender these to the police.

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LIBEL AND SLANDER. In our editorial this issue, we hastened to warn our colleagues in media and netizens about their newfound habit of peddling fake news and flagrant use of libelous and slanderous statements lest they become the first to be convicted of libel, cyber-libel and slander, and yes, violation of the Omnibus Election Code. They’re looking at 12-years imprisonment.

Cussing like PDU30 can land them in jail. And so is calling people names meant to insult are grounds for conviction.

One local broadcaster is already about to be charged in court.  

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