False shepherd, false hopes

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Tita C. Valderama

NEWS about the two explosions in Quiapo on Saturday evening sent chills down the spine of some people, primarily because it happened barely a week after a blast in the same vicinity that injured 14 people.

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I learned about the explosions—one happened at around 5:40 p.m. and the other at 8:30 p.m.—while I was in a church several kilometers away, and I received messages of concern and fear that the incident could be part of a plan to place the country under martial rule.

The police had quickly rejected any possibility that it could be an act of terror, in the same way that the April 28 blast was dismissed as a case of a gang war, with revenge as the motive.

In a press conference the day after the explosion, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Director Chief Supt. Oscar Albayalde said an improvised pipe bomb went off at about 10:50 p.m. on April 28 at the corner of Quezon Boulevard and the Soler St. extension.

The Saturday night blast killed two and injured six persons. The first explosion was at the office of the Shia Group on Norzagaray St. corner Elizondo St., near the Manila Golden Mosque. The explosive was inside a small box delivered as a package.

The person who delivered the package and the one who received it were both killed, Albayalde said. The second blast injured two police officers.

While investigating the motive behind the explosions, Albayalde said there was no indication they were terrorist-related, or connected to the April 28 blast.

On Sunday morning, an abandoned Eco bag on the side of Quiapo Bridge also caused tension in the area as the police cordoned it off and checked it using an ICOR caliber MK3 robot. The bag turned out to contain only harmless items.

Although the police had discounted the possibility that the explosions were acts of terrorism, we cannot help but worry over security in public places.

These incidents are continuing challenges to President Duterte who, in the first 10 months of his administration, has asked for two extensions already of a self-imposed deadline to “neutralize” criminals through the implementation of reform measures against criminality.

He won the election on a campaign promise to solve criminality in three months. Three months passed, and last January he asked for an extension of another three months.

After 10 months in office, the President said last Thursday, that he needed three years to stabilize the country and bring improvement to the lives of Filipinos.

“In the fullness of God’s time, you give me three years and I will be able to stabilize the country. By that time, we would be on deck for a new phase of our national lives,” Duterte said during the Philippine Orthopedic Association national convention in Davao City.

While the President acknowledged his campaign promise to improve peoples’ lives by ending corruption, criminality, and illegal drugs, the short deadlines that he kept on extending leave the public wondering if he can deliver at all at the end of his six-year term.

In some of his campaign speeches, and even after winning the election, the President told his supporters he would turn over the presidency to defeated vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos should he fail to solve criminality in three months.

On other occasions, he dared to be killed should he fail to solve criminality within six months of his presidency.

Extensions of self-imposed deadlines serve to weaken the President’s credibility. Instead of winning over non-believers to his side, he drives away even those who voted for him.

We were given false hopes for developmental change. It seems that the administration’s popularity comes mostly from online supporters, derisively called trolls.

The performance of many of his appointments in key positions in government had been unsatisfactory, especially those who were trying to please the president or were afraid to give contradictory views for fear of losing the perks they enjoy. In that sense only was the president a good shepherd to his flock.

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