Why the threatening tarpaulins?
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - February 25, 2018 - 12:00am

A long time ago a serial killer terrorized the US. Each time he murdered, he sent the police a message admitting the crime and challenging them to arrest him. Because his messages were written in codes and symbols he came to be known as "the zodiac killer". He has never been caught and no one has cracked his code.

The other day, I received through the internet a terrifying photograph akin to the zodiac killer's messages. This message is for all of us, civilians and police alike. I got a picture of one of the tarpaulins hung in conspicuous places throughout Cebu City. Unlike the zodiac killer's coded messages, the tarpaulins, sent probably by the mastermind of the murders of Albuera, Leyte, Mayor Rolando Espinosa and Ronda, Cebu, Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab, simply showed contempt for our policemen. The man was telling us Cebuanos he would also kill former mayor Michael Rama next.

Let us first take a look at the authorship of the tarpaulins. The man who paid for them probably feels he is beyond the law. We can imagine his audacity in admitting to two high-profile murders. By saying that Rama is next, he meant that he did Espinosa and Ungab. No criminal would be so daring unless he knows he is untouchable. That he sits on top of a high office is not impossible such that none among us dare speak our mind.

The tarpaulins were hung in highly visible areas by individuals who were confident enough to feel protected. It did not matter to them the tarpaulins announced a plan to kill Rama.

It is also possible the tarpaulins were put up to link Rama to Espinosa. To Rama's foes, putting him and Espinosa together sends a subliminal message of some kind of fraternity. Rama's opponents refused to consider that between Rama and Espinosa loomed an honorable person in Ungab. I can surmise that the scheme outlined by Rama's enemies is very crude because there seems to be nothing tying Ungab to the drug trade. His lawyering a suspected drug personality was lawful and did not make him an illegal drug trader.

A less sinister goal by the man behind the tarpaulins may be to strike fear in Rama and make him change his socio-political exposure. I heard Rama has tirelessly increased his meetings with his barangay leaders. One way to stop him from strengthening his political ties is to let him think twice before leaving home.

The thing that dreads me most is a dastardly perspective. There is this likelihood, although remote, that the tarpaulins are intended to condition us that Rama is targeted for liquidation and that when it should come, God forbid, it is attributable to the drug war.

Whatever motivation the tarpaulin author has does not absolve him from probable criminal liability. The police should investigate this. If I see no effort from them to arrest the man behind the tarpaulins I will have to conclude they are beholden to him or afraid of him.


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