Saturday, January 08, 2011

The coming Fifth Anniversary of ABS-CBN's Wowowee Stampede tragedy

The 4th of February 2011 will mark the fifth anniversary of that monumental tragedy that happened in the PhilSports "ULTRA" Stadium in Pasig, Metro Manila where 78 people died in a stampede for tickets to see ABS-CBN's hit television show Wowowee. It ranks up there along with the same sort of mass-casualty disasters that happen onli in da Pinas, except that unlike tragedies involving killer Sulpicio Line ships, homicidal mud slides that bury entire towns in Leyte, and murderous floods caused by storm drains clogged by human refuse, the Wowowee massacre happened on a nice sunny day.

This excerpt from an email that made the rounds in the aftermath of the stampede gives us some idea of the sort of power commanded by Wowowee and its mega-millionaire host Willie Revillame...
Wowowee is not your ordinary game show. Unlike Eat Bulaga's "Laban o Bawi", you don't have to send product labels to participate in the games of Wowowee. You don't have to wear a costume.

Unlike Starstruck or Star in a Million, you don't need to have talent to join Wowowee. Unlike Game Ka Na Ba?, you don't need to be intelligent.

All one has to do, as I've been told, was to fall in line outside ABS-CBN. If host Willie Revillame spots you, then you are in luck. You may be part of the Bigat-10 where you win at least P1,000. Or you can tell a joke on air. If he likes your joke, you get Php500. If your joke is corny, you get Php100. Still not bad for doing nothing but fall in line.

If host Willie [Revillame] fails to spot you, at the very least you got fed with biscuits from sponsors, which is not at all bad considering you have nothing at home. Add to that, you were entertained by the celebrities. For a moment, you forgot your troubles at home and tomorrow is another day.

Whenever a certain poor fellow wins a prize, Willie would then ask the person to talk about the sad story of his life. And then the host gives a spiel on how HE and the SHOW exist to HELP THE POOR.

Thus, "the poors" fascination for the show, adulation towards Willie, and interest to go to the show's first year anniversary is quite understandable.

When we combine those two factors together, a PSC-Ultra Disaster is bound to happen.

Indeed, it's been five years since this tragedy, and yet the most recent articles I could find about the Wowowee Stampede are only the following:

[Department of Justice] clears Revillame in Wowowee stampede, 10 Jun 2010 Inquirer.net
In his resolution, Gonzalez said that Revillame could not be held liable for the stampede just because he invited televiewers to attend the show’s anniversary special.

"The invitation was not, so to speak, the spark that eventually led to the explosion," Gonzalez said in his order. "More importantly, not by any stretch of the imagination can the act of Revillame, by itself, naturally and adequately lead to the stampede that killed 71 people and injured hundreds more."

The above article was classified as "Entertainment" by the Inquirer.net Editor.

The way I understand it, a fact-finding team organised in 2006 found ABS-CBN culpable for the the deadly stampede and ABS-CBN lawyers lodged a petition with the Department of Justice questioning the authority of this team. This petition to block the investigation was rejected by the Supreme Court on the 29th January 2008. This means there are no legal hurdles to the Department of Justice pursuing a case against ABS-CBN.

Since then, there's been no further updates on the case.

Indeed, try a Google News search using the key words "wowowee stampede abs cbn". You'll come up with nothing (as of this writing).

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