There was a whole lotta shaking going on in the newsroom yesterday — in terms of stories, I mean. For the purposes of the Inquirer Compact, which I help edit, any number of news stories could have been the banner on page one: The victorious race for overall honors in the SEA Games, of course. The rare joint rescue by the AFP and the MILF of two kidnapped schoolteachers. Malacanang’s confirmation of its Charter change campaign. The new CBCP head’s appeal for better press (about that, more later, or at least eventually). The naming of the first Filipino parish priest in the diocese of Rome. (Bene!) And then, of course, Garci’s return to Manila (complete with a MacArthuresque landing on an isolated Maguindanao beach).
We went with the SEA Games, because after all this is the first time since we joined the regional meet in 1977 that we placed first overall. But Garci’s dramatic return (landing on that beach, secured by men with AK-47s; arriving in Manila on board a PAL flight, even though his name did not appear — again? — on the flight manifest) would have been a compelling choice too.
Which makes me wonder: I trust Ricky Carandang’s instincts, and his instincts, he has said in at least one interview, make him suspect that Virgilio Garcillano and wife Grace decided to come out of hiding over their handler’s reservations. But the timing seems, well, too perfect: the SEA Games at its height, Christmas rising on the horizon, macro-economic good news already in the air. Could Garci’s handlers have chosen a better time for him to come in from the blue and make a soft landing?
In reporter Nikko Dizon’s story filed from the airport, Garcillano is described as transiting from plane to government-plated vehicle seemingly "drowned in a sea" of bodyguards and journalists. That may have been the whole point: coming out at this time, Garci would have had to swim mightily to rise above the flotsam and jetsam that clog the news stream at this particular time, in this particular year. But why paddle when you can float?