2011 EDSA bomb blast


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.