If you’ve been paying even the tiniest amount of attention to current events, you’ve probably heard of the 10-hour long hostage crisis that took place yesterday at Virra Mall (or V-Mall) in Greenhills. What did the hostage taker want and why are netizens suddenly sympathizing with him? Here’s the lowdown on the situation.
Here’s what happened
At 11:30 am on Monday, the 40-year-old former security guard Alchie Paray — armed with a pistol and grenades — stormed into V-Mall in the Greenhills Shopping Center complex, detaining around 30 mall employees and vendors at the administration office. Officials suspect that he was lashing out after being let go from his job.
At around 1 pm, he shot one of the guards on duty, who was rushed to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center. (The injured guard is now in stable condition and recovering.)
The mall was placed on lockdown, and Paray demanded an audience with the mall guards and the media. Following these demands, the police held a press conference. Six security authorities apologized to Paray to appease him, saying that they intended to resign from their posts. At one point, Paray demanded two of his former bosses to literally eat P2,500 in front of the media. This demand did not push through because the police, through the media, asked him not to do it.
At 8pm, the hostages were freed, and Paray, then thought to be unarmed, walks out with them. He then goes on a 20-minute speech. Then, as Paray asks San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora whether he would end up in the cemetery or jail, five policemen tackle him after seeing that he still had a pistol on him. He was then taken away by the San Juan police.
What the hostage taker had to say
In his 20-minute speech, the disgruntled Paray detailing his grievances about his former employer. He alleged that he and his fellow security guards were treated unfairly and were being fired for no valid reason. He also said that some security officials would take bribes from mall tenants in exchange for prime spots at the mall.
Paray claimed that one of these tenants gave the officials bribes to reassign him to another post. This said tenant allegedly took issue with Paray after he barred the tenant from entering the mall before opening hours.
“They treated us like fools and nobody complained,” Paray said, according to Inquirer.
In a statement issued last night, Greenhills Center said that they would “look into allegations made by the hostage taker”.
From fear to sympathy
After hearing what Paray had to say, the public sentiment towards the hostage taker shifted from fear to sympathy. During his speech, some security staff and mall workers even cheered. Many netizens also felt similarly:
The #Greenhills hostage situation was not about an evil man who wanted to hurt people. It was about a working man pushed to the brink because of inhumane labor practices such as shit wages & contractualization.
You’ve watched The Joker. This is what capitalist oppression does.
— Adrian P. (@PusengGala) March 2, 2020
Lessons learned from today’s incident in Greenhills where hostage taking happened.
“Sometimes good guys gotta do bad things to make the bad guys pay” pic.twitter.com/1tyO1yvE9o
— Neng (@i_amintrovert) March 2, 2020
The cost of a voice
Paray was so desperate, so overcome with anger, that he refused a ransom of P1 million. He just wanted to be heard. He was willing to die for it. “Bago ko po ito ginawa, alam ko na yung kahihinatnan ko. Pinaplano ko pa lang ‘to, patay na ko,'” he said, reports DZRH.
If you’re wondering how anybody would get to that point, consider yourself lucky.
Capitalism is exploitative by nature, but the Philippine brand of capitalism is especially so. According to 2018 statistics, around a quarter of Filipinos live in poverty. But many have questioned these figures because the poverty line is defined at a monthly income of around P10,000 for a family of five. If that number sounds ridiculous to you, join the club. Meanwhile, the rich are just getting richer
usually at the expense of those struggling to make ends meet. It’s no wonder how Paray’s rage has resonated with so many who have felt similarly taken advantage of.
When doing “the right thing” doesn’t work
Some (i.e. that one Facebook friend you still haven’t muted — you know who I’m talking about) may criticize Paray for not going through the proper avenues to get his point across. However, he said that he had raised his issues with his management, but they only fell on deaf ears.
“Nakikipag-coordinate ako sa kanila, ipinarating ko ito sa operations ng Safeguard, ng SASCOR, ng agency namin, ipinarating ko ito. Sabi naman ng GM, hindi niya alam, ng operation manager, hindi niya alam, so hindi niya ipinarating. Ibig sabihin, binalewala,” Paray noted.
Understanding ≠ Condoning
Here’s the thing. While we empathize with Paray’s anguish, that doesn’t mean that what he did was right.
The greenhills hostage taking incident is a perfect reflection on how bad the labor conditions in our country truly are.
(Not defending what he did) but if he didn’t do what he did, nobody would know or listen to how bad agencies treat their workers.
— Iñigo Abellar #8 #24 (@InigoAbellar) March 2, 2020
Just because we see social injustice doesn’t mean we condone hostage taking & terrorism. You can’t operate on false dichotomies like that. It helps to understand what caused the desperation. Again, understanding the sitch is different from condoning the act.
— Chai Fonacier (@bansheerabidcat) March 3, 2020
Is Tulfo the answer?
Some have said that he should have just gone to Tulfo. That may sound ridiculous to some of you, but this sentiment just goes to show how people have stopped trusting in the authorities and the government.
But still, he brought panic and he also shot someone! Hostage taking is not the way. He should have gone to Tulfo and not endangered people!
— aybi✨✨ (@seed_trepe) March 2, 2020
But knowing how problematic the Tulfo brothers are, Filipinos really shouldn’t have to depend on their brand of justice.
Only after making the effort to understand how this happened can we start taking the next steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. What can we do to make our society more fair? How can we make sure that the less fortunate have a voice and that the people who matter will listen? These are difficult questions that we probably won’t have the answers to tomorrow or next month or even next year. But unless we refuse to take the easy way out and simply valorize Paray’s actions or write him off as a bad guy, we can’t hope for things to get better.
What do you think about the Greenhills hostage taker’s actions? Sound off in the comments below!