Explosion in House rocks countryside
THE SOUTHERN BEAT  - Rolly Espina () - November 15, 2007 - 12:00am

A blast ripped through the Batasang Pambansa’s South Wing and killed Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar and the driver of Rep. Luz Ilagan of Gabriela. That was the shocking news that had Negrenses focused on their TV screens and radios Tuesday night.

Immediately, text messages were passed around. They were mostly from Bacolod residents inquiring about Rep. Monico Puentevella, the representative of the city’s lone district.

But as the identities of the casualties gradually dawned on Negrenses, the one that hit most was one of the wounded, Rep. Henry Teves of Oriental Negros.

Teves is just as known in Negros Occidental. His father, former Rep. Herminio Teves, and uncle, Finance Secretary Margarito Teves, are familiar figures to many in this side of Negros Island, especially to sugar farmers.

That incident, the first time to have happened, only highlighted the problem of securing a place where thousands of people gather every time there is a House session going on. In short, how do you conduct inspections of cars, motorcycles, etc. as well as the personal belongings of those entering the building?

That also reminded me of the futility of some of the security measures in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal II which I frequently use. There are groups of private security men. They inspect vehicles. But one immediately notices that the inspections are perfunctory. There just are too many excess personnel around.

“What happens if they find an explosive device that may be designed to set off upon inspection?” I once asked the driver of my daughter, Salvacion Espina-Varona.

“Ay di patay tayong lahat,” was his reply, shrugging if off as superfluous.

And that I think was one problem that was highlighted by the number of armed men milling around at the South Wing where the blast occurred. Too many people just kept going back and forth with hardly any order.

Even while police were still trying to probe the incident, the Basilan provincial board last night released a statement blaming the blast on political opponents of Rep. Akbar. The question, however, is, how come the come that bomb (?) managed to have been smuggled into the parking lot of the South Wing?

The assassination of Alioden Dalaig, chief of the Commission on Elections’ legal department, and the killing of another Cavite election registrar, and other high-profile killings simply accent the growing list of casualties from murders in the country.

We seem to have deteriorated in what American cowboys call as Dodge City. Orders to investigate and apprehend the culprits have poured out from Malacañang. But solutions have been lagging behind the steady stream of killings. Suspects are identified, but are hardly ever arrested.

So, what gives?

Protest vs floods

But Bacolodnons remained focused on the protest rally at the Bacolod Plaza after a motorcade yesterday afternoon.

The problem is that with two more typhoons spotted in the Visayas and Mindanao, the Monday floods that hit posh subdivisions and even major streets of the city have steadily mounted and prompted the organization of the Bacolod Anti-Baha Association. No, it’s not just residents of high-end subdivisions but the poor, including illegal settlers, have also joined hands.

BAHA, the acronym of the alliance, decried the seeming deaf ears of officials to their series of complaints, letters, and personal appeals for help in solving the problem that has brought floods even to exclusive subdivisions.

And they also decried the buck-passing among government agencies. Thus, they finally decided to mount a concerted action to prod officials to act on the problem, which dates back to several administrations.

Mayor Evelio Leonardia recently created the public works committee which he asked Councilor Roberto Rojas to lead to hasten the resolution of the flooding problem.

But even as we write about it, on Monday, Barangays Mandalagan, Bata, and Banago, as well as Sta. Clara subdivision and Villa Valderrama, were again flooded despite rains that lasted only for a few hours.

Bacolod’s central market, Bonifacio, Luxurriaga Gonzaga-San Juan, Hernaez, and Lopez-Janea streets also went under water. So did Burgos street.

But while the city has asked the DPWH to speed up the dredging of the river, that will address only one problem – the floods that have been plaguing Sta. Clara residents. But they also have to address the problem of the overwhelmed culverts along Lacson street fronting Robinsons.

Oh, yes, there are many more areas in the city that seem to get flooded every time there is rain, including Montevista where pupils of the Jack and Jill Kindergarten School were sent home Monday for fear that they could get trapped by the flood.

That’s the reality of life in Bacolod – the most friendly city in the country. It recently received the monicker as it went under water. 

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