POSTSCRIPT / July 26, 2022 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Pol’s shooting mars positive SONA mood

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signaled yesterday the start of a hoped-for transformation of the nation into a dynamo of productivity and a land of contentment according to a road map he drew up for his six-year term.

In his wildly applauded first State of the Nation Address reminiscent of similar rites that launched in 1965 the two-score regime of his late father, Marcos talked of reining in the pandemic, ensuring food security, and mitigating other socio-economic concerns.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. expresses optimism that the country can withstand its problems. Photo: AFP/ Aaron Favila

Marcos discussed his program at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City where the 19th Congress convened in joint session to listen together with the usual crowd of politicians and guests.

He inherited from the previous administration a country beset by a budget deficit, a huge national debt which is 63 percent of the gross domestic product that already contracted by 9.6 percent in 2020, and a pandemic that refuses to go away.

He also has to grapple with the problems of unemployment, low wages, and rising costs of food, fuel and fares. Annual inflation was hitting 6.1 percent in June 2022, the highest recorded since October 2018.

(NOTE: We could not catch the statistics/figures/lists that Marcos dished out faster than his normal speed. We ask the reader to go to the news section for them or check the infographics that we expect Malacañang to publish soon.)

The normally optimistic mood that a maiden SONA creates was marred, unfortunately, by the killing the day before of former Mayor Rose Furigay of Lamitan City, Basilan, and two others at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

Furigay was gunned down in the Aretè building where the graduation program of the Ateneo Law School was to take place. Among the graduates was her daughter Hannait, who was wounded.

The Philippine National Police operations director ordered SONA security tightened in view of the incident. The rage appears to be a spillover of the hate and bitterness that the May elections had generated on social media and on the ground.

In the United States, btw, where the killing by automatic weapons has been a recurring problem, an incident is usually (not universally) classified by the police as a “mass shooting” when at least three persons are killed by the gunman.

On that basis, the Ateneo incident could be described as a mass shooting, but we noted that QC police district director Remus Balingasa Medina said the gunman identified as Dr. Chao-Tiao Yumol, 38, was targeting Furigay, with other victims presumably just collateral damage.

Also killed were the mayor’s former aide Victor George Capistrano and Ateneo security guard Jeneven Bandiala.

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News of the shooting heated up emotions on social media with partisans and trolls jumping to conclusions on the basis of incomplete or wrong information. Some expressed alarm that followers of Marcos and former Vice President Leni Robredo may be hunting each other down.

Condoling with the victims, Marcos said on Facebook: “We are shocked and saddened by the events at the Ateneo graduation today. We mourn with the bereaved, the wounded, and those whose scars from this experience will run deep.”

On Facebook too, Robredo said she was “shocked by the news” of Furigay’s having been shot, and that “she, and her husband, (incumbent) Mayor Oric, were strong supporters of our Angat Buhay program in Lamitan.”

While condoling with the victims’ families, the Filipino League of Advocates for Good Governance-Maharlika (FLAG-Maharlika), which has had dealings with the suspect, said in a statement:

“It is sad and sudden that we learned the suspected shooter, Dr. Chao-Tiao Yumol, a known humanitarian doctor in his community and whistle-blower in the drug trade in his hometown, approached our organization to help expose the alleged drug trade and corruption in Lamitan City.”

• What motivated the gunman?

What could have motivated Yumol (assuming he fired those shots) to shoot the target himself – when he or somebody could have spent a few thousand pesos to get a hired-gun to do the job? With runaway inflation, has the price of assassinations gone up also these days?

In a press briefing on Sunday, QC police chief Medina described Yumol as a “determined assassin.” But he did not advance a theory or a guess as to what the doctor’s possible motivations were in risking everything to do what others would not dare do for the first time.

Medina said that Yumol had told investigators that he did not keep a permanent address as he was always on the move before the Sunday attack.

Tinatanong namin kung saan siya nakatira, saan siya nagtatago, palipat-lipat siya, natutulog siya sa kalsada, sa sasakyan, so mukhang determined assassin itong lumalabas si Dr. Yumol,” Medina said.

(“We asked him where he stayed here, where he was hiding, but he is just going from one place to the other, sleeping in the street, in his vehicle, so it seems like Dr. Yumul is a determined assassin.”)

Yumol has no address or residence in Metro Manila, according to Medina. He said Yumol just took a Grab taxi, which was allowed into the Ateneo campus without its passenger being noticed to be carrying two loaded pistols.

Yumol then waited for Furigay in the lobby of the Aretè building. When she showed up at about 3:30 p.m., Yumol started firing at his target, killing three in the group. Hannait was taken to the hospital wounded.

The police said Yumol then commandeered a car and sped out of the campus, but was blocked by a crowd on Aurora Blvd. after he hit several cars and motorcycles. Police officers caught up with him and arrested him.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 26, 2022)

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