Wednesday, October 18, 2017
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Pinoy connection to Las Vegas shooting

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At Large

Pinoy connection to Las Vegas shooting

There had to be a Pinoy connection to the Las Vegas shooting, described in most reports as “the deadliest mass shooting in US history.”

That connection is personal: The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, a retired accountant, had either a wife or girlfriend, named Marilou Danley, who was in the Philippines at the time of the shooting. From photos flashed on TV news, Danley certainly looks Filipino. Police have since cleared her of any involvement in Paddock’s plans.

Given the number of Filipinos or Filipino-Americans either living or working in or just visiting Las Vegas, the possibility of one or more of our country folk getting killed or injured in the shooting isn’t remote. Philippine networks were quickly able to get in touch with people with Filipino roots who witnessed the carnage. I just pray we don’t get news of a Pinoy fatality.

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Carnage it certainly was: at least 59 confirmed dead and 530 more injured among those who had gathered in a parking lot fronting the Mandalay Bay Hotel for a country music concert. Witnesses said they at first thought the gunshots were part of a fireworks display, until they saw people toppling over, covered in blood.

Paddock had booked a room at Mandalay Bay several days before, and was apparently able to sneak in at least 17 guns, many of them automatic weapons. From out of a window of his room on the 32nd floor Paddock fired randomly and in continuous bursts, pausing only to reload his weapons. Police quickly spotted his location, but he apparently killed himself before authorities could break down the door to arrest him.

We still have to determine whether his “Pinoy connection” is related at all to his rampage that night. An expert on mass killings, interviewed on CNN, said that authorities and experts could examine Paddock’s life down to the littlest detail and trace his last moments, but “nothing we do can help us stop the next mass killer.”

Certainly, there is nothing to pin down in Paddock’s case: He lived a quiet, prosperous life upon his retirement and had never been involved in a crime. But his father Benjamin had been on the run from the law for much of the 1960s-1970s, an AP report said. Charged with committing a string of bank robberies, the father was even listed as one of America’s “Ten Most Wanted Men.” He died in 1998.

Did this early exposure to crime and punishment play a role in Paddock’s belated psychosis that led to his horrific crime? Or is this just a quirk of fate, a merging of family history and individual opportunity?

* * *

Among the accomplishments that Sen. Cynthia Villar is most proud of, the establishment of 920 “farm schools” ranks quite high.

Realizing that farmers’ lack of access to technical knowledge and capacity, capital and land were at the root of their persistent poverty, the senator, who chairs the Senate committee on agriculture, determined to establish as many “farm schools” as she could nationwide. With financial backing from Tesda, the schools, she said, serve as both training grounds for farmers’ further education and as exhibit farms for tourists and city folk interested in learning more about the country beyond our beaches and malls.

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Villar looks forward to the day when a farmer could earn more than P10,000 a month (a far cry from their present monthly income of just P1,500) with improved harvests and diversified crops. A better life, in a way, could also pave the way for a new generation of farmers, since the children of farmers today look down on their parents’ occupation.

Raising the standard of living for farmers, says the senator, will also redound not just to their own benefit, but to the nation’s as well, ensuring our food security for generations to come.

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TAGS: At Large, Cynthia Villar, farm schools, Las Vegas mass shooting, Marilou Danley, Rina Jimenez-David, Stephen Paddock
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