No room for collateral damage


    A tragedy this week that left six people dead and four others injured in a stabbing rampage by a jealous lover in a condominium in Pasay City has rumpled our sense of security even in the vicinity of our own home, let alone a mall or other public places.

    In a culture known for its people’s hospitality and a sense of kinship even with a new acquaintance, reminding one another to “take care” when they part is a common expression of goodwill without a need to question its sincerity. But how do ordinary people take care of themselves in what is supposed to be their place of rest and refuge?

    The reality is that nobody holds the certainty of safety in any place at any time. Knowing that, neither would anyone want to live in paranoia even under these troubled times, having to look to the right and to the left upon leaving the elevator to make sure no knife-wielding or gun-toting jilted lover lurks in the hallway.

    Has a normal life become such a luxury in this corner of the world that ordinary folks can no longer afford the privilege of singing a happy tune as they take a stroll in a neighborhood park or sit in a train coach without having to worry about getting their pocket picked?

    The case of the violent rage by a man at the Central Park Condominium on Tuesday night over the supposed infidelity of his girlfriend, killing her and four others and wounding four more before he was shot dead by the responding police, shocked us, only a few months after a gunman mowed down dozens of people at the Resorts World Manila casino complex, also in Pasay City.

    The amok reportedly carried a gun, and Pasay City police said he had also been using drugs. Even if he were armed and addicted to prohibited substances, negligence and incompetence by the building’s security force played a big role in the tragedy, as they did in the mass shooting at the casino complex earlier.

    The floors where the stabbing spree took place had CCTVs installed all right, but just like the incident at the Resorts World, apparently no one was looking with the intent of preventing any such crime from happening.

    One of those who got stabbed as they stood in the way was a journalist, Joel Palacios, who worked briefly in 2015 as an editor with The Manila Times, and Reuters years earlier, as well as other newspapers, and later joined the Social Security System as its spokesman.

    A gentle, quiet person, Palacios, as well as the other fatalities and survivors, probably didn’t know what hit him, unsuspecting of what was to come in the thought he was safe in the 25-story high-rise building, with 24-hour security, supposedly.

    Besides the agency responsible for the security of the tenants of condominium buildings, police authorities are also expected to secure the areas they cover, and especially respond swiftly to calls for help when crimes are being committed.

    Let not the latest incident pass without sounding a wake-up call to the management and security agencies of condominium buildings and other residential areas – as well as police authorities – to tighten their vigilance against criminal elements in the places they are supposed to guard and protect.

    Let not such deranged minds be left unhinged when they launch their violent rampage against unsuspecting victims in supposedly safe places, and allow these killings to pile up statistics unchecked.

    Those who could be culpable for another horrific chapter in the daily life of ordinary Filipinos should not throw us the line that Palacios and company were in the wrong place at the wrong time, please.

    As the nation adapts itself to an increasingly integrating regional community of civilized societies, priding itself with the goodwill and happy disposition of its people as they sincerely bid one another “take care,” there should be no room for collateral damage in non-war-zone areas, much less in the vicinity of one’s own dwelling place.


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