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Feb 08

Imelda’s legacy

While the papers focus on the statement of investigators concerning their findings and recommendations on the stampede (and the efforts of the lead investigator to subsequently moderate his initial remarks), resulting in a p.r. snafu for the government which now seems more interested in exacting its pound of flesh from ABS-CBN ( the network head’s outraged reaction indicating this emerging sense of the government’s priorities), my Arab News column for this week is Ultra Complex Not Suitable for Large Events. Which is true, but the larger point is the unrecognized role Imelda Marcos played in the recent stampede.

Commentators continue to focus on the reasons behind the tragedy, and also on the effort to glean more from the grisly event than easily comes to mind. Gail Ilagan condemns commercialism; Jake Macasaet insist the tragedy must not be separated from other, including natural, disasters; Mike Tan focuses on the tragedy throwing a spotlight on a disturbing trend: the increasing meanness, and rudeness, of Filipinos from all walks of life; Newsstand echoes Tan’s discomfort over the behavior of so many involved, and considers it unhealthy to romanticize the victims; Big Mango considers the tragedy a glaring failure in leadership and also, a tragedy of the commons; while Howie Severino is incensed over the arrogance of the police, who must bear some culpability, too.

Carmen Guerrero Nakpil eloquently, and sensibly, appeals for an end to too much angst about being Filipino.

Ricky Carandang discerns an angry nation, and wonders how much longer things can continue without some sort of national jolt to the system. It seems some leaders are concerned the country is headed towards the brink. Cory Aquino, in what may be a last-ditch effort, has reiterated her call for the President to resign (and now the Vice-President, too), though attention is also being given to her continuing rejection of coups or People Power as an option to resolve the crisis. I think though, her basic message is clear: if the President doesn’t step down, the entire system is headed for extinction. Johnna Villaviray-Giolagon has an opinion piece expressing the dire need to take a leap of faith and undertake changes -despite the risk it will be seized upon by radicals.

But in response, it’s business as usual in the Palace: as the Inquirer editorial puts it, a system of Continuing payback. There are more of the usual ploys of dangling carrots before the opposition. Officially, the Palace remains unfazed by emerging unity in the opposition.

Filipino Expat discusses the negative views Filipinos have of Indians.

And here’s a timely article: How to fool a wiretap.

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17 comments

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  1. Carl

    President Arroyo is fair game, but I think Cory Aquino was ill-advised to call on the Vice-President to resign. And endorsing Franklin Drilon to take over as interim President only compounds the error because it only deepens suspicions that this is all contrived and part of a conspiracy, going back to the Hyatt 10.

    As for the Vice-President, lo and behold! He has been typecast as a dummy and a non-performer. But no less than the well-respected veteran business writer, Mary Ann Reyes, has come out with praises for his performance in the Housing department. Ms. Reyes even ventures to say that housing has become one of the bright spots of this administration since the V.P. took over. Here is Mary Ann Reyes’ article:
    http://www.philstar.com/philstar/NEWS200602080713.htm

    So the V.P. isn’t such a dunce after all! People shouldn’t give up on the Vice-President. He doesn’t need all the sympathy he can get, because he seems to be doing just fine doing things at his own pace. But spreading the myth that he doesn’t have the capacity to be President is not only unfair to him, it only works in favor of the current President.

  2. ricelander

    Imelda’s legacy? Hmm, let me see: should we blame Imelda too should something similarly tragic happen at the CCP complex, or San Juanico Bridge…?

  3. mlq3

    ricelander, of course, as in what happened in the film center, and if a tragedy occured and it was shown insufficient exits were built. if you read my article there’s blame enough to go all around (though i think not enough focus is being placed on the pasig city government and the police), but really, ultra is an extremely impractical complex. maybe ok for 5,000 spectators but not for 17,000. or more.

  4. joey

    sana naman cory jsut shut up na lang.she already has her place in history.
    before cory opens her mouth she must first think twice about hacienda luista if she has anything to show for it!
    talk is chip in this country.if she really wants to do something for this country.why does not she organize a “soup kitchen” for the poor.use her wealth & influence to get the rich people together to help the poor.
    i think, for her good.she should know when to stop.
    do we really care for the poor? do we really care for this country? then lets stop creating so many obastacles & roadblocks for our economy to improve.
    i think cory is very selfish.correct policies have been put in palce & lil by lil we will also see results.
    i think that for every crak pot who opens their mouths.they are hurting the simple people more.
    the latest book by the Pope speaks of charity.i wounder how cory practices it?

  5. joey

    yes manolo, i agree the ULTRA is not the best place for large gatherings.i was surprised that abs-cbn could not think of a larger venue since they where expecting so much more then ULTRA can accomodate.

  6. Danielle

    I saw footage of the crowds the night before the stampede and there was literally a sea of people. I believe that the police and the local officials were sleeping on the job. There should have been a police presence there. For me, they are just as responsible as the officials of ABS.

  7. Jon Mariano

    With due respect, I disagree in giving some blame to Mdm Marcos. Given the reasons why the arena is not a good place to hold big events, the fact is it has been used productively for a long time. It may have outlived the purpose it was built, but it’s no reason to even give some blame to the benefactor.

    After all the reading I have done regarding this tragedy, I would think that the following should bear the blame:
    1. Game show organizers – for the lack of preparation and improper handling of a big crowd. Other events before with less tragic results doesn’t speak well for the company in this regard.
    2. The Police force – for not providing enough police presence. Granted that the organizers did not coordinate with them, the presence of a big crowd calls for control.
    3. The Filipino’s poor skills in respecting the line (queue) and willingness to jump ahead even at the expense of others.
    4. The Filipino’s attitude of “baka makalusot”. This is shown in some reports that those who were not in the official queue had a big role in starting the stampede.

    Here in Hong Kong, public events needs to be coordinated with the police. The police even helps in planning crowd control and traffic alteration. The local people respects forming of lines. But even with good planning, accidents still do happen (see this link from hong kong standard, and another one here. But, at least, fatalities are prevented.

  8. joey

    jon,for me insted.i think it’s the organizers that should be responsible.i think it’s the organizer who are in the position to have a clear picture of what they need.it seems the organizer asked only to occupy the road.there where no organizational meetings w/ the proper authorities.there did not seem to be either any division of task & responsibilities.
    In short,the organizer miscalculated disastrusly everything.starting from the venue that could accomodate only half of the expected volume.
    The police authorities culd have been only as effective as the organizers made them participate.
    The entire event was not considered in it’s totality.
    It’s bad enough that we do not have an effective crowd managment system in place.Still there was no proper coordination.
    The venue & the overflowing crowd was an accident waiting to happen.
    For me, it’s a plain case of incompitence & irresposibility on the part of the organizers.
    They created a noontime show that was a monster.They where so naive to understand the explosive situation they themselves created.
    I admit that the local authorities could have done more.It is also however not enough reason that the organizers pass & spread the fault around.
    The organizer panned an event for major gains for themselves.
    Is it correct that since it went wrong due to their incompitence that the fault be passed around?
    It seems to me that abs-cbn is behaving arrogantly.
    Sadly,like it or not.abs-cbn represent a family w/ power & influence.and i’m sure there nothing they won’t do to get away from their responsibility.
    I can just hope that they show some honesty & dissency in accepting their responsibility.

  9. mlq3

    joey, why not spell check?

  10. Jon Mariano

    When I’m in Manila I don’t watch filipino TV shows except the news. I have no bias against TV shows as I believe that the law of supply and demand governs them. You know, what the viewers want, the networks will make. The business side of the show has nothing to do with the stampede, in my opinion.

  11. cvj

    I like Carmen Guerrero Nakpil’s no nonsense, minimalist definition of the Filipino. Not your typical navel gazing exercise. Her advice to our countrymen who may be uncomfortable with their identity is well worth taking. If diligently followed, it will help a lot of our people find the happy middle between the extremes of existential doubt and dreams of world domination…

  12. dimakapagisip

    mlq3, allow me to say that i’m very disappointed at you.

    you have pointed links to other bloggers and columnists with differing opinions but what is your real stand on this? yes, it’s still early to know what or who really caused the stampede but why can’t you make a clear stand?

    if abs-cbn wasn’t involved here, i bet you would have written eruditely on this, pronto!

  13. mlq3

    i think my arab news column is clear enough, and my monday column explains my frame of mind. but if you want an explicit statement, here’s who is to blame:

    1. abs-cbn
    2. the ultra management (and thus, national government)
    3. philippine national police
    4. pasig city government
    5. residents in the vicinity who didn’t raise hell over traffic and people sleeping on the sidewalk

    No blame for the crowd. Crowds are crowds. Crowds do not think; you cannot assign blame to a crowd. I have been in a stampede situation twice in my life (first in faces disco, where there was a small fire; second, when the crowd broke through the police barrier at mendiola bridge during edsa dos). in both cases, being dragged into the stampede and seeing the stampede headed at me respectively, you realize no one in such a situation is thinking clearly.

  14. Marcus Aurelius

    I have never been in a stampede situation but I was in a crowd once I thought could go stampede very readily. I stayed to the back of the crowd and kept my eyes open for escape routes and the on the jeep moutned .50 cal nearby.

    One other time was at a concert. I was in line to get my tix at a will-call window and the queue broke down so it was a crowd pushing and shoving their way to the front. Every now and then the crowd would start to moo (yes moo like a cow) and every time this happened the eyes of the big burly guy keeping people from an entrance to the venue would get wide with fear. I eventually got my tix and the next day when I went for my tix for the second show they managed to keep a proper queue.

    That link to crowds Manny provided some days back was very informative.

  15. Carl

    I think mlq3’s list of who are to blame is more or less correct. But as the creator of the whole situation (the show, the concept behind the show) which led to the tragedy, ABS-CBN really deserves the brunt of the blame. I find it pathetic that ABS-CBN newscasts are so obviously trying to spread the blame around. In one newscast, ABS-CBN tried to show that Ultra was in violation of building codes, that the entrances weren’t wide enough, that the terrain wasn’t flat, etc. I wouldn’t dispute those findings, but if Ultra wasn’t adequate, why did ABS-CBN hire the venue in the first place? Why didn’t they look for a safer, larger venue? Were they trying to cut costs? Is ABS-CBN seeking refuge in 20/20 hindsight?

    Although I agree that accusing ABS-CBN of treating the crowd like animals was a bit overboard (despite the grain of truth), ABS-CBN should stop trying to put their spin into the tragedy.

  16. baycas

    mlq3,
    agree (on your list)…

    i wonder if there really is a government policy on crowd control and management – last thing i remember is the concept of the CPR on the “rallying” crowd – and probably a maximum tolerance on the “game-show” crowd?

    my websearch may be incomplete but i only read the pnp “first responders’ handbook” chapter X on crowd control. it’s geared more to a crowd gathered for rallies or strikes. i’ve yet to obtain full text of the government policy on civil disturbance management even at dilg site.

    picking up the research from your citation of john fruin’s “The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters…”

    wowowee can be likened to “The Who Concert Tragedy” in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA on december 3, 1979 (wwwdotcrowdsafedotcomslashtaskrptslash).

    “Following the tragedy, the City of Cincinnati immediately established a citizen committee, The Task Force on Crowd Control and Safety, to research and recommend ways to make future concerts safe at Riverfront Coliseum and at other city venues.”

    it took the committee six months to finish their report and this report “remains a landmark document in the field of crowd management. praised as being concise and balanced, the report’s recommendations won the respect of public safety professionals from around the world.”

    i hope proper authorities will read the entire report at wwwdotcrowdsafedotcom (didn’t provide the link…’cause this comment may not again be posted).

  17. joey

    yah nga carl i agree w/ you and it’s not about blameing but it’s about taking responsibility.
    did abs even use it vast powers to discourage people from coming when they saw the crowd swelling?
    i saw a piece of a report of ces drilon about that u.p. prof. who leaves near bye & felt the coming disaster & said that we must all be responsible insted.it is so called reports of that nature that give a bad taste in the mouth that abs is double talking.on one side saying that they will be a sort of responsible and on the other hand looking for ways to run away from their responsibility by passing the blame.it’s just a lot of “showbiz double talk”
    about the tating the people like animals I agree w/ Corpuz.the vedios & conditions they where in explains it.

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