BUT first, people are talking about...
* A REENACTED BUDGET. Which must the country choose? A 2019 budget loaded with tons of individual and institutional pork, which would promote corruption, or a reenacted 2018 budget, which could slash, the economists say, 1.6% to 2.3% from economic growth.
* CAMPAIGN PERIOD. The dates will mark the beginning of the enforcement of campaign rules, which people know are not or cannot be enforced. Feb. 12, for senators and other national candidates. March 29, for House members and other local candidates.
Stories from Jolo
Stories and images have come from Jolo, Sulu where two bombs that exploded inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral last Sunday (Jan. 27) killed at least 27 people and injured more than a hundred others. And the news and photos sometimes include a police officer who had served in Cebu City for a long time. His interviews about the tragedy, in which he was on ground zero, included a few with Cebu broadcasters.
The police officer at the scene of the latest incident of terrorism in the country is Sr. Supt. Pablo Labra II, Sulu provincial police chief since March 1, 2018 and, before that, a prominent police personality in Cebu.
‘Fair-haired boy’ of Tomas
Labra headed the Cebu City PNP’s Intelligence Branch, was deputy for police operations, and later led the Regional Intelligence Division. He also worked for some time with the Camp Crame intelligence group. In June 2015, he was based in Kuala Lumpur to serve for three years as police attaché of the country with Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Thailand.
He was once called the “fair-haired boy” of Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena who wanted him as city police chief although by PNP rules, Labra was not yet qualified. Tomas, the mayor at the time, before Mike Rama took over in 2010 and 2016, lobbied for Labra but didn’t succeed.
Labra’s publicized cases in Cebu City included the kidnapping of a nursing student in 2006, the arrest of a big-time drug pusher in 2010, and in the same year his tangle with a city councilor whom Labra accused of using his influence to protect a crime suspect.
Would Labra shine in a setting where the criminals are terrorists? The police officer once trained in Russia on terrorism and human trafficking. That might help.
Jokes about Duterte visit
The visit of President Duterte and his party o the Jolo Cathedral last Monday (Jan. 28) prompted comments that poked fun at the visitors, such as:
* Duterte, who had publicly slammed the Catholics’ “stupid God,” risked getting burned when he stepped into holy ground. His security officers, the joke ran, were more concerned about God’s wrath than any threat of attack from the terrorists. And he didn’t take off his cap inside the church, a disrespect that increased the danger.
* The president’s party included a mayor who was not mayor of the city (Sara Duterte-Carpio, Davao City mayor, not mayor of Jolo) and a man in military uniform who was not an Armed Forces member or officer (Bong Go, in battle fatigue).
P.S. to “cameo” roles of Mayor Sara and Bong Go: Bong Go is photo-bombing more than ever, riding on presidential coat-tail to pad his chance of getting into the Magic 12. But Inday Sara? Maybe the next presidential election.
Tell us about it.