The Insecurity of Alchie Paray, Greenhills Security Guard
The image of hostages held for ransom is strong- almost as strong as our desire for a good story. Early this week, recently fired security guard Alchie Paray shot one person and held 30 more in a San Juan mall. After a nine-hour standoff, he freed them and spoke to the press, where he protested of unequal treatment at work before being subdued by the police.
Monday’s (March 2) events ask us if maybe there are no bad guys in this story—just the unlucky few who have nothing left to lose.
Paray’s security agency had offered him P1,000,000 for his surrender and release of the hostages, but he refused it, insisting instead on having his grievances heard. At the press conference arranged at his request, Paray accused a mall tenant of taunting him for implementing the mall’s “No ID, No Entry” policy before mall hours: the tenant had failed to show one, and after the argument, allegedly paid Paray’s superiors P5,000 to have him dismissed.
It's interesting how P5,000 was enough to remove a man, yet P1 million wasn’t enough to silence him.
Keeping people safe is humble, uncertain work. Security guards, like the rest of our country’s contractual working class, face punishing shifts that can last 36 hours, some of them forced by their agencies to pay for their own uniforms, with no true guarantee of stability. Paray’s ordeal began because he inconvenienced a tenant while doing his very job.
I am reminded of Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Liwanag with Alchie Paray taking the place of Lino Brocka’s Julio Madiaga, both facing a seething mob. Violence is a messy way to send a message. It undermines even the most noble intentions. But for those who have exhausted their means, it is the lonely, last resort of the invisible among us. It's careless to assume all violence is meaningless, and anyone’s patience can run out. Imagine the desperation of people in these times, and the structural injustices that force people to resort to such.
We are angry—but resigned—to crimes far greater than this. Politicians steal billions and oligarchs monopolize industries, but a security guard is offered one million pesos to surrender quietly- and he refuses it. When it comes to crimes of desperation, we have the self-righteousness to ask for someone's head. It's something I don't understand.
Cameras and news crews were present as Paray was allowed to speak. We love a good story. Meanwhile, little is known of the tenant who became the last straw for Paray, whose actions led to his dismissal and to his final attempt to be heard yesterday.
“Bago ko po ito ginawa, alam ko na yung kahihinatnan ko,” Paray said. “Pinaplano ko pa lang ‘to, patay na ako.”
Alchie Paray expected to die. Instead he is alive, but finished. Every good story has a bad guy. To many of us, the bad guy is someone else, and the story ends there.
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