There was a collective gasp when residents of West Tower condominium, evacuated because of a leaky oil pipeline under the building, revealed that the company that ran the pipeline offered them money to just forget the incident.
But it wasn’t because First Philippine Industrial Corp. tried to buy itself out of a bad situation.
Companies settle out of court all the time. If anything, it would have been more shocking if they didn’t try to settle.
A team from the UP National Institute of Geological Sciences had already traced the gasoline that started filling the basements of West Tower in June to the pipeline. Anthony Mabasa, FPIC officer in charge, admitted as much at the Senate hearing on the leak.
What was a shock was the reaction of one of the residents to the attempt to settle.
“P100,000? It’s not like we live in a squatter community. Maybe if we were squatters, we’d be happy with that,” she said.
The tragedy, it seems, is not that FPIC had allowed a leak in their pipeline go undetected for around five months.
The tragedy is that it happened to them, who were not, as she said, squatters.