ASEAN music fest organizer admits surprise over crowd size

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2017 05:00 PM | Updated as of Nov 16 2017 05:01 PM

Aerial view of the crowd at the ASEAN Music Fest on Tuesday. Courtesy of Annil Villanueva

MANILA- The organizer of the cancelled ASEAN Music Festival admitted on Thursday that they did not expect a big turnout of attendees of the free concert last Tuesday.

ASEAN Summit National Organizing Committee Director-General Marciano Paynor Jr. said the government was prepared for a crowd of as many as 20,000 people but not for the actual turnout of around 57,000.

Police, however, pegged the number of concert goers to be only at 15,000, secured by over 550 policemen.

Asked if they failed to prepare, Paynor said: "Hindi. No one ever imagined we would have that number of people owing to the conditions: it did not rain, it was a holiday, it is free. We made the necessary plans to contain a maximum of 10 [thousand], even 15 [thousand] even 20 [thousand] no problem, but 57 [thousand]? The only way to do it is to stop. If anyone has to take the blame for it, I will."

Held at Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati City, the music festival was cancelled after concertgoers got "rowdy" during the set of Parokya ni Edgar, resulting in the fainting of some people.

Metro Manila police chief, Director Oscar Albayalde, on Wednesday said 40 people were hurt in the concert, 31 of whom were assisted for non-trauma treatments, and 9 others for trauma treatments.

Paynor explained that the organizing committee originally thought of the Araneta Coliseum as a venue but considered the chance that many people won't attend due to road closures.

"...As they were assessing, they said many people had already gone out [of Metro Manila] so we might have a coliseum with only a tenth of the capacity filled. So, we looked for other venues, the Ayala Triangle was one...," he said.

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Concert organizers also did not expect the enthusiastic response of the crowd to local band "Parokya Ni Edgar," which only got the chance to perform 2 songs before the cancellation of the music festival.

"...First time I heard of the band, with due respect. They had such a big following. When they started to play just the first tune, the crowd was swaying was back and forth and the barriers suddenly gave way and a lot of people were crushed," he said. 

Paynor also clarified reports that a stampede occurred during the concert, saying the decision to cancel the program was to ensure the safety of the public.

"There was no stampede. Some newspaper people put it as a stampede, there's none," he said.