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Raging Stampede for Ratings

Here's the news all around the world about the stampede that resulted in the deaths of at least 70 Filipinos who lined up to get their chance to win money at a game show: Google News, Yahoo! News, Topix.net.

But no, this post is not going to be about the news. It's going to be about corporate and social responsibility. Last night, I was at a party where an ABS-CBN employee attempted to deflect blame for the deaths by saying that what happened was comparable to the crush that occurs when MRT and LRT trains stop to load and unload passengers at stations. His conclusion? There were just too many people. It was their fault.

I was, of course, at a social event, and so as politely as I could, I had to insist that the analogy was false. There is, in fact, no money involved in getting on or off a train at rush hour. But, to be fair to ABS-CBN—whose executives have been apologizing all over the place—it seemed that it was just this employee who was clueless because he couldn't understand why people at his network were so distraught about the tragedy.

The willingness to make amends, however, does not get ABS-CBN off the hook. Important questions beyond culpability and remuneration are the following: Is it right to prey on the poor's desperation to win the ratings war? Is it correct to just make an announcement that those who get in will automatically win 5000 pesos and not plan for accidents? Did the company's responsibility to the people it sought to exploit not extend to making sure that the procedures for getting the chance to win were reasonable and humane?

Enough. I don't really know what to say anymore...

Category: The Philippines

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