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FIRING LINE: Car battery explosion! Really?

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

When it comes to the Manila Central Post Office fire investigation, the truth unfolds, or so they say. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) probe reveals a rather mundane explanation — an explosion triggered by a car battery.

BFP arson probers claim that this battery, stored alongside office supplies, paints, and thinners in the basement, self-discharged and set off a thermal runaway, leading to the tragic fire that consumed one of Manila’s most iconic and historic structures.

To the 42 lawmakers who sought a congressional probe into this fire: Where you na? Too busy serving the ends of the administration’s Maharlika Investment Fun?

I hope you’re not so quick to dismiss our earlier suspicions that profitable ulterior motives seem to hang heavy in the air. While I pray this BFP investigation report is not an elaborate cover-up, Postmaster General Luis Carlos seems content to declare the investigation closed, if not over-eager.

But as questions persist and motives remain shrouded in smoke, is the Postmaster General too quick or naive to swallow a possible attempt to bury the truth beneath a mundane accident? After all, a car battery conveniently transforms an iconic landmark into smoldering ruins: the timing and circumstances are too perfect to be mere chance.

Also, the report reveals a lack of fire suppression systems, a failure to safeguard these irreplaceable symbols of our past. These should also be open to congressional scrutiny if we, as a nation, value the preservation of our cultural and historical treasures.

Beyond the findings of the BFP, Firing Line still believes there are more truths to be salvaged from the ashes — significant facts that could be used to: first, prevent greedy individuals from erasing our past all in the name of profit, and to punish those in charge who fail to protect our heritage sites. Both should be held accountable.

The unmentionable name

Vice President Sara Duterte, the master of playful yet cutting remarks, seems to have found a new target for her mischievous jabs. During her speech at a thanksgiving event last Monday, Duterte expressed her gratitude to President Marcos, carefully avoiding mentioning his middle name, “Romualdez.”

Duterte skillfully dances around the Romualdez name with playful charm, leaving it unuttered like a dark, unmentionable secret or character in the abyss as Harry Potter’s Voldemort.

It’s a subtle but pointed move, making her intentions clear without needing to spell them out. Still, I will: she has marginalized the President’s cousin, Speaker Martin Romualdez — leaving him out of her sentence and her ambitious political future.

For the House Speaker’s sake, I guess that’s better than being called out as a “tambaloslos” — that Visayan mythical creature with a large mouth and a penis the size of its own torso. That Cebuano slang is used to insult men who are all talk, inept, or foolish.

And if there’s anyone in politics who can dish out that slapping insult, you can bet it’s a Duterte.

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SHORTBURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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