Meaningless

Another year, another bomb blast. At the press conference following the explosion on Buendia and EDSA, P-Noy was asked how the incident would affect his schedule for the remainder of the day (he was meant to deliver a speech at a venue near the incident). Without skipping a beat, the president laid out what his duties were.

After a personal inspection of the bus, he would condole with the relatives of the victims and visit survivors. This is after he announced that a thorough review of security estimates or threat analysis would take place. It has become almost a ceremonial function or ritual proceeding for the president to go through these motions (and I am not simply referring to this president, but the previous ones as well).

The nation has become so accustomed to such events that apart from suffering some initial discomforts the public remains unperturbed by them. This morning, the peso opened four centavos up against the dollar. At the close of yesterday’s trading, the Philippine Stock Exchange index climbed 1.5% snapping a five day losing streak while the broader all ordinaries index rallied by 3.2%.

Unlike the bomb blasts in Indonesia which claim the lives of hundreds of individuals at a time including foreign nationals, yesterday’s incident which regrettably has claimed the lives of five innocent civilians will hardly register a blip in the overall scheme of things. Travel warnings by foreign governments with respect to the Philippines have remained in place (despite the administration quibbling with them over whether these should cover the entire archipelago or be limited to pockets in the south), but is has not stopped the flow of tourists into the country (neither have they deterred flows into Indonesia for that matter).

Today it is reported that the growth prospects of the country remain strong (similar incidents last year have hardly made a dent). The country appears to be better suited than its neighbors to weather the challenges associated with a rebounding global economy. The international news agencies hardly took notice of the bombing having the much larger explosion in Russia to contend with.

On the whole, it is hard to imagine that any lasting impression or impact will be felt by either the polity or the economy from yesterday’s apparently terrorist attack. It leads one to think what had the perpetrators hoped to achieve by staging it. If sympathy to their cause is what they had hoped for, they are truly deluded. It is more likely that it will breed a sense of apathy with the broader public which have simply grown numb to such events. If it is fear they wish to sow, then again the opening bell of today’s financial markets will hardly manifest this.

At the close of the Q&A at the news briefing in Malacanang, P-Noy appealed to the public for greater community participation and vigilance in preventing such cowardly acts from being carried out successfully. In an open and free society, this is the most potent defense. If instead of eroding the sense of trust and faith we have in our authorities (and each other), what happens as a result of these incidents is that the community begins to bind itself together, then perhaps yesterday’s event may not be so meaningless after all.

Doy Santos aka The Cusp

Doy Santos is an international development consultant who shuttles between Australia and the Philippines. He maintains a blog called The Cusp: A discussion of new thinking, new schools of thought and fresh ideas on public policy (www.thecusponline.org) and tweets as @thecusponline. He holds a Master in Development Economics from the University of the Philippines and an MS in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

  • I was actually in the middle of the action yesterday, on my way to the Fort to attend a writer’s dialog. I listened to the way broadcasters on the radio tried to fan the flames of conspiracy.

    Gauging from the response of both the visitors from abroad and the locals that I came in contact with and that of the markets, I have come to the conclusion that I have in the article.

    Sadly it would mean that yesterday’s casualties would only add to the running stats, unless of course the public becomes fed up and uses this as a catalyst for creating cohesion. In that manner we could best honor the memory of those who perished.

  • UP nn grad

    But then again, maybe you are right, Doy. [Pinoys-in-Pinas will hate when Pinoys-in-Australia speak ill of how Pinoys do not care enough for each other…] Maybe Pinoys-of-metro-Manila will react to EDSA-bus bombing as Pinoys-of-Metro-Manila reacted to
    —–
    10/21/2010 10:21
    PHILIPPINES
    Mindanao: bomb on a bus leaves eight dead and eight injured
    ————
    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Mindanao:-bomb-on-a-bus-leaves-eight-dead-and-eight-injured-19779.html

    Investigation, finding and arresting the guilty, conviction.

  • UP nn grad

    It sounds callous to suggest that the deaths from the Buendia bus bombing would be trivial and ba-balewalain ng citizens of Pilipinas. To even suggest “..the stock market went up, isn’t that great??!” is inane, in my opinion. Maybe you are right that the Pinoys of metro-Manila and the Makati Business Club will return to celebration, but it still sounds Noynoy-like and logorrheal.

    surely, at least for next few more days, the proper response is to put high value on the lives of the killed, and if you don’t believe they are important at least to their families, then — silence.