2019 electoral violence
Is the government ready for the violence that may erupt in the 2019 elections?
Election-related killings have claimed a former La Union congressman and a Bicol party-list representative. While the Bicol murder seems solved, La Union’s unsolved execution casts a pall over the whole province, with some theories now connecting this to assassinations of Sudipen’s mayor and Balaoan’s vice mayor.
Many deaths triggered by local rivalries also plague other barangays, towns, cities and provinces from as far north as Cagayan and Ilocos Norte to as far south as Sulu and Basilan — and many other places in between, including Quezon City recently.
Apart from the La Union cases, the Ilocos Region also features the Fariñas-Marcos clan face-off in Ilocos Norte and a personal showdown between Chavit Singson and Edgar Zaragoza for mayor of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur.
Pangasinan has its own share of killings of local councilmen and barangay officials.
Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region also have simmering dynastic contests.
All these portend a bloody North Luzon political season, as most camps are well-armed dynasties.
Similar dangers spill over into Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol, as well as to the Visayas and Mindanao, where the situation gets more complicated given the Bangsamoro Organic Law’s implementation.
Goons, guns and gold can resurface in deadly force, so 2019 could become the bloodiest in Philippine electoral history if political warlords can’t keep their followers on a tight leash.
The transactional nature of the current leadership coalitions could distract the attention of both the AFP and PNP from attending to these looming risks.
Hopefully, sounding these alarms this early will prod the Comelec to create a civilized and issues-oriented political campaign period.
Also, religious leaders and media experts should more proactively set an environment for peaceful and orderly elections, and the government should more forcefully enforce the gun ban.
If the administration can’t prevent 2019 from becoming the most deadly Philippine elections, the electorate will have no choice but to desert their candidates in May.
JOSE Z. OSIAS, convenor, BalikProbinsiya, [email protected]
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