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Overclosed

By Jullie Y. Daza

NO man is an island. No island can take too many men and women.

One look at the first television footages of Day One of Boracay’s closure and you were sure the island looks much better now without those massive crowds of tourists who brought in the revenue, the business, the commerce of man and money. Boracay, closed to tourists, closed to traffic by air, land, and sea, will be able to breathe again.

Truly? If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you’d swear that some still shots and TV images pictured the island as a staging ground of soldiers and policemen armed to the teeth with assault rifles, ready to attack. Attack whom? One group rehearsed the do’s and dont’s of how to handle activists protesting the closure, complete with shields to protect their body armor. Another report showed lawmen patrolling the beach for possible stragglers and supervising the demolition of fences and posts.

To me, it looked like the soldiers were preparing for an operation mounted by enemies of the state coming in from sea and air. But out there on the shore, now cleared of people and structures, with neither a hut nor tree to conceal them, they looked like sitting ducks. Unless it was a dry run they were conducting in anticipation of a UFO invasion – such an open, tempting spot for an out-of-this-world spacecraft to make a soft landing.

A reporter, possibly a secret member of the Gunless Society, asked the new PNP chief, Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde, if he did not think it was “overkill,” to which the general gladly replied, “Better overkill” than be caught unawares.

Gun-shy is not how to describe Dir. Gen. Aaron Aquino of the Drug Enforcement Agency, who displayed R200 million worth of high-powered guns, equipment, tracking devices and protective gear before reporters and photographers in Camp Crame. In one newspaper, the editor of the page was witty (or sarcastic) enough to use a picture of the general holding one such gun beside a story of PDEA’s “home-centered” rehab program for drug users to “give them a second lease on life.”

Are drug lords afraid of high-powered weapons – surely, they have their own arsenals – more than they are of snitchers? As the results of Operation Tokhang and Oplan Double-Barreled, Reloaded tend to show, “drug personalities” are dragged into the dragnet by snooping, spying, and street-smart assets.

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