When people are desperate enough to sleep with their children on the street, while waiting for a benefactor who may come to give them enough means to sustain them for a day or two, it shows how much a country has failed its poor. When more than 70 people die in a stampede in a crowd that came far and wide to this place where they have been invited to a chance of striking it rich, or merely to stand in line for hours to receive food packages, it speaks of a horror far more dreadful than being trampled to death by a hungry mob.
We hear a television host on the radio, apparently in tears, saying he has no idea that things would turn out this way, and that all he had been doing was try to alleviate the daily desperation by offering prizes and entertainment. We hear him slowly veering away from the tragedy of people dead and injured and speaking of how every show is carefully planned for and financed by its advertisers, and how people have flocked from all over the country just to see him and his entertainers, and insisting that the show should go on, despite the dead and the injured, because he has taken it upon himself to ease the suffering of the poor.
We wonder where was the crowd control, when the television show’s producers had seen that hundreds of people had camped out by the gates of the sports arena the night before, in the hopes of winning millions of pesos in cash and prizes? Where was the planning and organization that they spoke of that went into each and every show? Where were the police, who can be mobilized by the score in an instant whenever a rally of fifty people is staged in front of the U.S. Embassy, now ridiculously insignificant amidst a horde of 25,000? The television network claims they deployed a reasonable ratio of security to crowd. Is 215 security personnel a reasonable ratio against a crowd of twenty-five thousand?
And we read about people blaming the crowd itself, irresponsible parents they are, bringing children to camp out in the street. These people say the dead and injured deserve their fate, when they could have just stayed home and watched from their t.v. sets instead of exposing their children and themselves to the elements.
It is a sad country that we live in, when the poor consider a television host as their saviour from poverty, when television capitalists see the poor as a means to further their interests, when those in charge of police pay no mind to a horde because they are not demonstrating against the government or the U.S., when some people do not understand that a desperate parent brings his child with him to the breadlines because he wants his child to eat as soon as is humanly possible.
This is the state of our nation, and for this we should be very ashamed.