Mystery tarps rattle Malacañang

One of the mysterious tarps that was seen in Manila and Quezon City July 12.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque last Friday when he was asked by broadcaster Erwin Tulfo about the tarpaulin declarations that the Philippines is a province of China sounded like the Harry Roque of the good old days.

He didn’t mince words. He cursed abundantly. In one paragraph, he said “loko-loko”, “baliw”,”sira-ulo”, traydor”, and “walang-hiya” – words used by people feeling miserable about what is happening in the country to refer to President Duterte.

Asked about the red tarpaulins hung in strategic places in Manila and Quezon City with words, “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China”on July 12, the second anniversary of the Philippines’ victory in the case filed against China at the Arbitral Tribunal, Roque went ballistic: “Kung Hindi na naman sila loko-loko ay bakit nila sasabihin iyong ganoon. Kung ikaw po ay tutol sa Presidente, okay iyon, tutol ka sa polisiya; pero para bastusin mo yung bansa natin mismo ay talagang kalokohan iyan. Baliw lang ang gagawa niyan dahilaraw-araw ay tinuturuan natin ang ating mga kabataan na kumanta ng Lupang Hinirang, tapos sasabihin mo na tayo magiging kaparte ng isang dayuhang bansa. Iyan po ay talagang hindi lang mga sira-ulo; iyan po ay walang pagmamahal sa bayan, mga traydor, mga walang-hiya, mga –hay naku, gigil na po ako.(If you are not crazy, why would you say that. If you are against the President, that’s okay, [you] oppose his policy; but to bastardize our country, that’s foolish. Only a fool would do that because every day we teach our children to sing Lupang Hinirang, then you say we are part of a foreign country. That really is not only mentally deranged; they have no love for the country, traitors, shameless, — (sigh) I’m so pissed off.)”

Well-chosen words that fit perfectly Duterte, who spoke about joint exploration in the South China Sea last Feb. 29 at the 20th Founding Anniversary Celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club in the presence of Chinese ambassador Zhao Jianhua: “Yung oil dito ang pinakamarami. Two-third sa amin, one third kayo, mayaman naman kayo eh. Sus, at probinsya na kami. Oh, province of Philippines, Republic of China. (The oil here is so much. We get two thirds, you get one third, you are rich anyway. And we are a province. Oh, province of Philippines, Republic of China)”

Even if only for a brief moment, it was good to see Harry in his element again against something truly deplorable.

Malacañang is at a loss about the mysterious tarp issue because it indicates trouble in many levels.

The tarps were not just simple, naughty protest streamers. It was a well thought out plan and executed to perfection.

Using Duterte’s “province of China” line was smart.

The timing – second anniversary of the Philippines’ victory in the case filed against China before the Permanent Court of Arbitration – gave it a deeper significance.

Then there are the questions related to security:Where were the tarps printed? There’s a Chinese connection (not necessarily Beijing) because the message had a Chinese translation.

If it was done outside the country, that should add to Malacañang’s paranoia.

The locations of the tarps as well as time of posting indicate that those behind it knows a thing or two about security because they were able to avoid CCTV monitoring.

They knew and exploited the vulnerabilities of the current security set-up.

That should indeed worry Malacañang.