Philippine election will never be complete without violence.
In Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao, a member of the municipal board of canvassers was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men. In Digos City, Davao, armed men stormed the house of a mayoral re-electionist in an attempt to kidnap his father. In Poblacion 1, Ilocos Norte, 2 died and 2 were wounded after an encounter between the campaigners of two competing mayors.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA), together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), identified 15 election hotspots in the country. As election day draws near, security is also heightened in the identified areas.
Election-related violence seems to be part and parcel of Philippine elections. It can also be observed that incident reports come mostly from the provinces as political rivalries are more intense in comparison to the metro. Innocent lives are lost as traditional politicians desperately compete for their desired posts. Force, instead of better programs enshrined in their platforms, is used to get the votes of the electorate. In turn, democracy and the liberty inherent to it are both jeopardized.
Such desperate acts are clear manifestations of cowardice on the part of the traditional politicians. It is a show of greed and the thirst to remain in position; a reflection of their hankering to subjugate the public and in turn, satisfy their own selfish appetites.
Ideally, that shouldn’t be the case. The election is crafted to be a competition of platforms geared towards societal progression. It is a battle that should primarily be based on merit, such as each candidate’s political and public service background. The expertise that anyone eying a public post should seek isn’t one that involves repressive force; rather, it is the genuine drive to serve the public. It is not a television show where politicians mimic actors and simply “flaunt what they’ve got”, in this case their guns and their goons just to get that golden post.
In the light of these haunting events, it is our role to be observant and critical come election day. As we thrive in a world of modern technology, we can maximize our phones and other gadgets through social networking sites to expose suspicious incidents to a greater audience. Various groups and organizations, such as AES Watch, are always open to gather and compile these reports so it can be forwarded to the proper authorities. In turn, election-related violence can be prevented.
With all things said, this should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: exercise your right to suffrage. Every vote is important for it could determine our future. Go out and vote on May 13.
*Written by Ronald Ednalan Jr., Phoenicia Achaia dela Merced, Inna Castillo, AES Watch volunteers