MANILA, Philippines -- Since nearly dying during the ?Wowowee? stampede of two years ago, Juanita Amorin, 37, has become paranoid. Ordinary things have taken on sinister meaning: A crowded market is a potential death trap while a tightly packed Metro Rail Transit coach is a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Cold mornings terrify her, too, because that?s when the ache in her arms, knees and left ankle --now covered by varicose veins -- are at its most piercing.
Amorin said ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp., the network that produces the Wowowee game show, had not given her and other injured victims any financial help to treat their injuries and the ailments -- both physical and psychological -- that soon followed.
?I don?t go into crowded places anymore. I also don?t take the MRT during rush hour. I?m afraid something bad will happen,? Amorin, a self-employed mother of four, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, adding that she still gets flashbacks of the tragedy.
The injured had practically lost all hope ABS-CBN would help them that about 70 of them recently asked rival noontime show ?Eat Bulaga? on the GMA 7 network to let them try their luck in one of the latter show?s games.
If Wowowee wouldn?t help them, maybe the other show would, Amorin said.
On the morning of Feb. 4, 2006, a Saturday, 74 people were crushed to death as thousands rushed the Philsports Arena gates in Pasig City as soon as these were opened by security guards.
According to the National Bureau of Investigation, over 800 people were injured in the mad rush to get in for a chance at millions of pesos in prizes.
Of that number, 285 had sought financial assistance from the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
Since that fateful day, their lives had been severely altered so that any help -- from ABS-CBN or GMA 7 -- was welcome, the victims said.
Amorin said she had not had a comprehensive X-ray since the stampede. The only medication she received was a pack of mefenamic acid to dull the pain, she said.
Not even a bag of rice
Montserrat Bernardo, 55, said she has had a bad back since a steel barricade fell on her. She considered Amorin lucky because she was given painkillers while she received nothing.
?It has been two years. We have not received anything from Wowowee. Not even a bag of rice as a consolation,? Bernardo said.
The network may have helped some families whose members died in the stampede, but it wasn?t the promise tearful network executives made on the arena stage two years ago, the victims said.
?They said they will help all of us,? Amorin said. ?We are not asking for much. I myself only want financial assistance for my X-ray,? she said.
Lengthy court battle
Two years since the stampede, the victims have come to terms with the fact that they are in for a lengthy court battle.
Last week, the Supreme Court dismissed ABS-CBN?s petition to junk the Department of Justice?s investigation report that ruled the network had a criminal liability in the incident.
In a 22-page decision, the high court, through Associate Justice Conchita Carpio-Morales, dismissed the network?s suit accusing the DOJ prosecutors of being biased. The network said it would appeal the ruling.
For the victims, Feb. 4 means making a pilgrimage to the stadium. Beginning Sunday, the victims of the stampede started holding a vigil in front of the entrance gates where it all happened. Early Monday morning, they will reenact the incident.
Amorin said the victims have vowed to see the case until the end.
?We are fighting for our rights here. If they say that they didn?t do anything wrong, then let?s determine this through the legal process,? she said.