Oct 26, 2007

[Philippines] Glorietta - One Week After

Flickr: Dan Shouse - Police Dog
Police Dog
by Dan Shouse.

It's been one week since the incident at Glorietta 2 and we're still trying to figure out what happened. 11 people died because of the tragedy and with the investigation still on-going, we have no idea why these people had to die so needlessly. Some still insist that it was a bomb while others are pushing that this was just some sort of industrial accident.

Over on the PBS mailing list, they were calling for today to be Blog Action Day of sorts for the Glorietta victims, as inspired by the recently concluded global Blog Action Day for the environment. While it's important we send the best of intentions to those affected by this tragedy and to their families, I'd like to take things step further by also looking at what's changed since then and the potential lessons we may still need to learn.

Back in March I wrote a piece about the non-security of Makati offices as a sort of critique of the faux-security culture that has developed after all of our terrorist events in the country. Despite how security conscious we claim to be, we are really just going through the motions, more often than not in order to show the world that we're doing something.

If the Glorietta incident was some sort of a bomb or terrorist act, then we only have ourselves to blaim. As I said before, if the secuirty of a top-notch Makati building was so shabby, what more our shopping malls and public areas that have to deal with significantly larger volumes of people. When it comes to security, the challenge of any commercial establishment is to balance customer comfort, ease of getting into the facility and of course their store security policy all at once. As much as we, as consumers, want to feel safe, we also don't want to spend 15 minutes in queue just to present one's bag for inspection.

Right after the Glorietta incident, everyone put their best foot forward. Police checkpoints where everywhere and even here at my building the number of K9 units patrolling the area even at night increased by more than 200%. Heck, even the 24-hour McDonald's stores in the area were inspecting people's bags before letting them in. Seriously - security checks at fast food chains.

At least, that was for the first few days. One week later, we're down to the usual inspections and one sleepy dog standing by the entrance to the vehicle drop-off at the most. The police cars are at the curb and the cops are back to taking naps during the wee hours of the night. So much for security.

I'm a big believer in bomb-sniffing dogs and even metal detectors - such passive security tools are great for processing large numbers of people efficiently while still being somewhat meaningful. I'm not very keen on visual inspections and some guard inserting a stick into your bag, trying to pretend to be looking for something. They have no clue what they should be looking for anyway. At least the dogs are trained.

If it's one thing we owe the victims of Glorietta, it's the ability to truly learn our lessons and not just resort to political posing and pandering to the social psyche of the community. You can't just up security for a few days then heave a sigh of relief and let your guard down. That's just wrong. While I understand that we can't resort to maintaining a near-constant state of caution and wariness since that only leads to longer-term mistakes and general emotional fatigue, a line has to be drawn wherein we acknowledge the mistakes and opportunities of the past and change the way we do things for the better - permanently. Not just for a few days or a week.

My heart goes out to the families of those affected, those who died, those critically injured and those who need to live with the horrors they experienced on that fateful day. It's been seven days since the event and already it feels like people are beginning to forget. I'm not saying we should hide in our homes in fear. I'm saying that we need to never forget and we need to learn. We owe them that much.


  1. Hi rocky! I was supposed to post something about the glorietta bombing and the sizzling-hot granting of the talked-about GMA executive clemency to the greatest criminal that ever graced this country pero on latter thought, i retracted na lang. The more I think of these topics, the more angry I become. I'm afraid I might have a coronary or something.

    I'm having an inkling that this G2 explosion is a political thing (probably to divert attn away from GMA's hullabaloos) or it could be a mere accident too. But the fact that there are countless lives who either died or get injured makes the whole incident a very memorable, albeit extremely tragic one.

    And the clemency, it feels as if I'm victimized by GMA's hasty decision. Of all people, bakit si Erap pa ang pinalaya for god's sakes.

    Ooops, I'm diverting away from the topic. Hehehe. =)

    By the way, yeah rOckY, I missed you. You have become one of my closest bloggers ever since I resume blogging a few months ago. It’s nice to see old friend’s comments again..

  2. I have to admit that I've become a tad too jaded over the years that I've prety much given up on the entire political scene here and just don't care for the most part. I feel it doesn't make much difference at this point and so I tend to monitor international movements more since the implications of those events are pretty striking regardless.

    I'm not sure if I added you on YM correctly - was using the webmessenger client so lemme know if it's still not right on your end.