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WHETHER it was a criminal act or an act of terrorism, the death of 37 victims of the “lone gunman” in the Resorts World robbery cum arson was a major tragedy where most of them died by smoke inhalation, preceded by panic and unimaginable terror. Sure, it may not be terrorism as the world defines the word today, but not even the killer’s taking his own life can assuage the grief of the victims’ loved ones.

It was not an act of terrorism, not as the world defines the word, but in Manchester and London where the crimes were immediately classified as acts of terror, only 29 fatalities were reported – I use “only” for lack of a more appropriate word, because the loss of one life is as heavy as the loss of 10 or a hundred. Twenty-nine in two incidents, including the four terrorists (one in Manchester, three in London), compared with the 38 killed in one building in one night by one “emotionally disturbed” 43-year-old gambling addict from Manila. Not an act of terrorism, strictly speaking, but for the 12,000 people in the hotel-casino that night, it was pure terror just the same. They also terrorize, they who are “not terrorists.”

Sitting beside police officials who presented them to media on Sunday, the equally distraught Mr. and Mrs. Fernando Carlos described their son Jessie as “mabait” (kind and obedient), “walang bisyo” (without vices), “tahimik” (kept to himself), a good son who did not visit them often enough, “puro casino lang” (it was always the casinos). They denied he had mental issues but admitted he had money problems, they knew of no connection between him and any group. It may be a cliché that fathers know best and mothers are almost always in denial, but as Tolstoy observed, “All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is different in its own way.”

With police closing the book on the mystery of Room 510, they are also belying the ISIS claim that he was one of their martyrs. Life goes on. The malls were full on Sunday, security guards were not more lax or more strict after journalists heard the Carlos couple and before the malls closed at 10 p.m. If a non-terrorist can cause such a scale of terror and death, what have we learned? (Jullie Y. Daza)