Rumors, Threats, and Scares: Holy Week in the Philippines

It's Holy Week again here in the Philippines, and the rumor mill is in full swing. There are rumors that a terrorist attack by various groups is imminent. Possibly explosives placed in a public area such as a mall or on a crowded public road, various text messages and concerned friends declare. Which terrorist group? No one can say for sure.

Still, that won't stop most people from braving the malls or the roads. The rumors are more or less the same every year.

But it IS an election year, and one that will probably get quite heated as election day gets closer. It is also very close to the tragic terrorist bombing in Madrid. These two circumstances may certainly cause many to think twice about dismissing the rumors.

Another rumor flying around is that the bombings are not necessarily going to be by terrorists, but by the current administration or one of the other parties interested in taking power in the Philippines.

The current administration (one friendly to the current interests of U.S. Presidential incumbent George Bush), may be considering a Plaza Miranda-type move to remain in power... given that for all their Social Weather Station surveys showing PGMA in the lead... it's likely she's only ranked 3rd or 4th nation-wide. For those of you who don't know what Plaza Miranda is...

On August 21, 1971 (only 12 days after I was born), Plaza Miranda was bombed. The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was blamed, and this was the basis for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in 1971 and the imposition of martial rule in 1972.

Other parties may be considering such a tactic to throw shame into the current government, or to further destabilize the country, or as a prelude to yet another coup. ("Come to our beaches, stay for the coup! WOW Philippines!") I don't think I need to explain what a coup is. Every minor and major incident seems to be viewed as the prelude to one.

Or these may all be part of the propaganda and psychological warfare between the increasingly fragmented and self-absorbed political factions of this country.

And who pays the price?

Perhaps we can go to the streets and ask where Juan de la Cruz is. Perhaps he's already decided to take his chances in places like the U.S., Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. Better than starving or being caught in the crossfire between people who worry where their next million pesos will come from.