In hindsight, it was “social news network” Rappler.com that stood alone as the only key organisation of significant influence screaming bloody terrorism and shrieking “ISIS!” as Resorts World burned. 37 innocent people died that night, not because they were infidels but because they unwittingly had already been trapped by circumstance when they first entered the casino.
Firstly, the building was a deathrtrap — a disaster waiting to happen. It had a security crew of seeming incompetents who flinched not once but many times in several encounters with the lone gunman, Jessie Carlos, in those crucial minutes that could have prevented the disaster. Video footage shows first line of defense breaking down — a security guard manning the metal director at the entrance into the casino scampering away in a panic at the sight of Carlos. Another piece of footage shows a security guard spotting Carlos coming down a stairwell. But rather than hold his position and take aim at Carlos (like a seasoned security officer would), he instead ran away.
Second, none of the fire safety facilities of Resorts World were up to the task of protecting people from the fires lit by Carlos. It had neither the procedures nor the properly-functioning equipment to mitigate the risks that came to deadly light on that fateful night.
And, third, waiting in the shadows to pounce on a scoop was Maria Ressa and Rappler.com. Perhaps because this trendy supposed bastion of “online journalism” had for so long been hemorrhaging cash, it was the hungriest of the predator-journalists looking to cash in on the next crisis. In his latest column on the Manila Times former Ambassador Bobi Tiglao writes of the astounding fatal shortcuts Ressa took to seize this juicy scoop…
Rappler’s editor-in-chief Maria Ressa claimed the gunman was an IS adherent named “Abu Khair al Luzonee”. “Al-Luzonee,” as in Luzon island? The lady didn’t get it. (A more credible IS news site is Almasdar News, which even backed up its reports that it was IS-linked groups that attacked Marawi with photos of the fighters, one even showing them raising their rifles atop a destroyed armored personnel carrier.)
That the Resorts World attack was by an IS militant was obviously the kind of fake news one reads every day in Facebook. These over-eager IS social-media activists though are devious: How can the killed gunman deny that he was an IS fighter?
There are two witchhunts (followed by hangings) that Filipinos need to demand following this wholly-preventable tragedy.
(1) Drag Resorts World owners and management and hang them out to dry for the blatant lapses in security and fire safety that this disaster showcased. It was successfully done for the victims of the 1996 Ozone Disco tragedy that saw 162 young lives lost in a similar disaster.
(2) Summon Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to a public inquiry to account for her role — no, leadership in turning Rappler into a channel for terrorist propaganda during the critical hours following the disaster when Filipinos needed reliable information the most.
There are obvious steps truly decent societies take to demonstrate they deserve to be captains of their own destinies. Policing their own lot is one of them. The Resorts World tragedy is an example of a disaster that was caused by an internal rot and not by the sensational externalities that influential people would rather the public believe are always to blame for the Philippines’ troubles.
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