The dark suspicions about the Glorietta 2 blast resurface
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-10-26
Your Chair Wrecker was meeting with a group of political watchers and players when the Glorietta 2 blast happened on October 19, 2007. The group was composed of players of the EDSA I and EDSA II political events which ousted from power Dictator Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada. The group was also at the forefront of the Opposition to the scandal plagued Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime.

We were meeting because we were deeply concerned that the GMA regime was sinking deeper into public distrust and notoriety which could lead to several unsavory political possibilities. A government that has lost its credibility, with its very legitimacy in serious doubt owing to the Garci Tape scandal of 2005, creates a wide open field of political possibilities that span the spectrum of Rightist and Leftist options.

In February 2006, the GMA regime was seriously threatened by a planned military withdrawal of support. Compared to the Lt. Antonio Trillanes-led Oakwood Mutiny of July 17, 2003 which involved junior officers, the February 2006 military incident was led by no less than a general – Brigadier General Danilo Lim. It was quashed by decisive government preemptive action after GMA loyalist generals whom Gen. Lim made the mistake of inviting to join the planned withdrawal of support squealed and alerted the Palace.

At the time of the Glorietta 2 blast which killed 11 people and injured more than 100 other mall patrons, the GMA regime was reeling from the recent expose made by then Pampanga Governor Ed Panlilio of the Malacañang Palace P500,000 payolas (disguised as cash gifts) to local government executives. It was also the time when the Senate was conducting the ZTE-NBN Hearings. Five months earlier, the GMA administration lost miserably in the 2007 Senate elections.

At the time of the Glorietta 2 blast, the GMA regime had already adopted a siege mentality. With a divided military and a recharged Opposition, they feared that any new scandal could lead to another political upheaval like EDSA I and EDSA II. Despite the thinning ranks of its supporters, leaving Malacanang Palace was the last option GMA was willing to consider. The biggest motivation that fueled this obsession to remain in power was the fear of prosecution the moment she no longer enjoys presidential immunity from suits.

Thus, when we heard about the Glorietta 2 blast during our meeting, it was as if the Holy Spirit descended upon us and gave all of us the same information. What immediately came to mind was that the Glorietta 2 blast could be the work of the GMA regime. We all felt that a predicate was being laid for establishing the political atmosphere for imposing emergency rule – which is the new term for martial law.

Just like the best laid plans of mice and men – and perhaps then favorite usual suspect Norberto Gonzales – the Glorietta 2 blast failed to provide the desired predicate for setting the stage for emergency rule. It appeared as if we were not the only ones to have received the grace of the Holy Spirit. Overwhelming public reaction to the Glorietta 2 blast converged on one suspect – the GMA regime.

A great deal of the public reaction that pointed to the GMA regime as the primary suspects may have been generated by the anti GMA faction in the military. We subsequently received information that the anti GMA faction in the military had reliable information to that effect but not solid evidence that would stand up in court, especially in a GMA-controlled judiciary.

The unexpected public reaction must have compelled the GMA regime to undertake a retrograde maneuver. They had to abandon the suspected original plan because it can only backfire on them at that point. The unexpected turn of events had placed the GMA regime on the defensive as most Filipinos see them as the killers of 11 innocent mall patrons – people every Juan de la Cruz can easily empathize with.

In such a situation, the first order of the day was to obliterate the public perception that the blast was a deliberate act of the government in order to attain a political objective. This was such an emotional issue that could incite and unite the entire country against GMA, making it her worst nightmare.

The methane gas accident story had to be told and sold. The methane gas accident story removes premeditated criminal intent from the equation. The only party that stood to be inconvenienced was the Glorietta 2, its owners and managers, as the blast could be the basis for charges of homicide and serious physical injuries resulting from reckless imprudence.

The former head of the Army Explosive and Ordinance Disposal Unit that investigated the Glorietta 2 blast, now retired Colonel Allan Sollano, revealed last week that a C-4 explosive caused the explosion and not methane gas. He further stated that the GMA government ordered the suppression of the real findings of a C-4 explosive causing the blast. Sollano’s revelation lends credence to the government conspiracy theory.

The 11 fatalities of the Glorietta 2 blast and their loved ones deserve closure. The nation also needs closure to all the nagging issues of the GMA regime. Sans closure to all these issues, we cannot move on as a nation.

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