“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”
Sometimes, this refrain applies to many things in the current political crisis of the GMA administration. Similar to the situation just before Marcos assumed dictatorial powers in 1972, the crisis, from the start, is fraught with extra-constitutional dimensions. Witness the various attempts to circumvent the constitutional requirements in the Cha-cha maneuvers, the constitutionally-untenable refusal to recognize the Senate power to question Executive officials, and even the attempt to impose martial rule in the guise of a “national emergency.”
The Glorietta incident is evidently a political event, fraught with grave implications on the political crisis and its actors. What happened was simply too coincidental to dismiss as a random act of terrorism. It happened on a Friday afternoon, as the weekend starts and people have difficulty in meeting or reacting in an organized manner. It targeted Makati business, a favorite target for political messages. If the report on the use of C4 explosive is confirmed, another unique element in past political bombings is present.
It is, of course, too early to have any firm conclusion as to who are the perpetrators. However, strictly from the point of view of political implication, a simple cost-benefit analysis can be done.
The Glorietta bombing basically creates an atmosphere of unease, tension, and fear among the populace. If there are others that followed, it may create panic or cause cumulative harm on the body politic. Such a situation puts pressure on a target political opponent and/or derails its normal activities. It may precede a decisive extra-constitutional move.
A convenient culprit remains the Abu Sayyaf or some other Moro rebel group. This is possible but military offensives against them have led to disarrays in their organization and capabilities. Small bombings in the South can be expected of these groups but a massive bombing in Metro Manila–such as the one in Glorietta–raises questions.
Two other groups have the capability for such an obviously carefully-planned bombing. One is the rebel group in the military. The other is the military itself.
Their engaging in the Glorietta bombing would mean a political connection or an incursion into the political arena by the rebel military. Assuming a political motive, the bombing would represent a demonstration of political strength–and nothing else. It flies against the logic of the present stage of the political crisis where the pressure is on the president and not on the opposition. Such a move can only weaken the political momentum of the opposition. The only logical reason–not necessarily tenable politically–is to prepare for a much more decisive strike at the center of power.
Involvement of military elements in the chain of command in the Glorietta bombing would mean that a section of the military has taken sides in the political conflict on the side of the president. The logic is to create a reason for an imposition of martial law or some form of national emergency. There is a precedent in the past–that of the series of bombings Marcos did to justify martial rule in 1972.
The Glorietta bombing will not immediately produce any clear indication as to the motive(s) of the perpetrator. Succeeding incidents will create the patterns that make clear a decisive political–albeit extra-constitutional–strategy. Whatever happens, we have entered the final stretch of the political crisis.
Are we facing a straight and happy road ahead? Or are we on the brink of an abyss?