Protesters stand pat despite “bomb”
BAGUIO CITY (Nov. 25) – For at least three consecutive days, Baguio residents and other groups stood their ground reclaiming the Ganza parking area from the control of a private pay-parking firm, here despite a bomb threat on November 23.
An alleged improvised homemade bomb was “detonated” at the Ganza Parking area here by members of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) at around 4:30 PM on Thursday, November 23, or thirty minutes before the citizen’s (group against the Jadewell) planned program to symbolically declare the reclamation of the parking facillity from the Jadewell Parking Corporation, Inc. The bomb was discovered after a reporter of the ABS-CBN Baguio received a message at 3:15 pm that claimed a bomb was planted in the area.
City officials and the BCPO requested the assistance of Warbird, a security group based in Club John Hay, here, which arrived an hour after the detonation to sweep the parking area with Bin Ladin, a trained Belgian Malinois K9. After thirty minutes, Gary Mata through the trained dog again rechecked the area and the inspection yielded no bomb.
Chief Inspector Leon Talleo, Station 7 head, told Nordis that they cannot determine the type of the bomb they had just detonated. Concurring with the negative result of the investigation by Warbird, he added that they will bring the materials to their national office for examination.
The BCPO has not tagged any suspect in the bomb scare except the number of the texter’s mobile phone. Both PNP and AFP were visible securing the area.
Earlier at 3:15 PM, Dhobie De Guzman, an anchor of the local ABS-CBN here, received a text message that a bomb was planted at the Ganza Parking area. He immediately reported it to the Police and the latter responded immediately by deploying its bomb disposal unit to the area. While the BCPO disposal team detonated the homemade bomb, an explosion still occurred which called the attention of passers-by.
Failing to scare protesters
Various leaders from anti-Jadewell crusaders, who were at the area waiting for the 5:00 P.M. program they set, dismissed the bomb planted as a move to scare them in their unified move to bar Jadewell from controlling the city streets.
City Councilor Jose Mencio Molintas in an interview, said that he is more in favor of seeking the mayor’s order for Jadewell to leave the area for the safety of the people.
He also dismissed claims that the anti-Jadewell group planted the bomb. “Why should we set up a bomb near our group and hurt ourselves?” he added.
Molintas was among the prime movers behind city Ordinance 33 (series of 2006) that repealed Ordinance 003-2000 which granted Jadewell the right to collect parking fees from vehicle owners using the city streets. Ordinance 33 was approved by Acting Mayor Reinaldo Bautista, Jr. that removed Jadewell’s privilege to control pay parking on the city streets.
The alleged bomb exploded at the back of a parked Jadewell tow truck where anti-Jadewell protesters and Molintas were group-singing while waiting for the program to start.
Evelyn Miranda of the Crusaders Against Jadewell claimed that they will not stop their call to remove Jadewell just because of the bomb.
Ignacio Pangket, chair of Ornus, an urban poor alliance, reiterated in his speech that Jadewell has no more basis to stay as the people had spoken as manifested by the different moves against Jadewell, which had raked millions in profits and denied the city residents the use of public streets.
Wait for Supreme Court decision
Meanwhile, Jadewell Manager and Chief Executive Officer Rogelio Tan denied they had any hand in the bomb scare and instead pointed to the protesters and even dragged the name of suspended Mayor Braulio Yaranon.
In a press conference at 2:00 P.M. on Friday, Tan claimed that he was only implementing the ordinance and reiterated that the protesters must wait for the decision of the Supreme Court on the legality of their control over the city streets.
Lawyer Emiliano Gayo reportedly resigned as the counsel of the Tan’s, the reasons for which was not disclosed to the media.
March to reclaim the streets
Earlier that morning, at least 300 residents marched down Session Road to the Ganza Parking area to symbolically serve notice for Jadewell to leave the city. They proceeded into the Ganza Parking area and were allowed in by Jadewell where they held their program and were joined by some of the City Officials led by Molintas.
“It is another victory of the people; a tradition following the successful movements on the John Hay, Uniwide, Casino and Bulk Water issues. It is a victory that can never be circumvented by the numerous legal cases from Jadewell or maneuvers from the powers-that-be,: the militant Tongtongan ti Umili said.
Tongtongan also called for the Baguio residents to support the daily protests happening at the Ganza Parking area until Jadewell leaves. # Arthur L. Allad-iw with reports from Joel Capulong