Wasted lives

At least 39 people were killed because we claim to be a democratic republic where the voice of the people – rich or poor –is reflected in the ballot.

Since there were “fewer deaths,” the Philippine National Police (PNP) declared that barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections were considered generally peaceful.

Officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) even congratulated themselves for having successfully implemented the so-called gun ban.

It will always be a job well done as far as the authorities were concerned even if the record showed that there were 78 election-related incidents during the past two months.

If we look it, it’s not their fault that some people tend to become violent during the campaign. Anyway, if there was really an increase in election-related incidents, it will soon be forgotten and the victims will eventually become mere statistics in the annals of electoral history of this freedom-loving nation.

We are lucky to have a popular President who had promised reforms. I’m sure the electoral process is one of them, so we just have to contend with these recent deaths, all related to our being democrats, democratic with respect to debate and liberal in treating antagonisms that lead to murders here and there.

In short, these instances of violence were part of the democratic exercise, with thugs campaigning with their bullets and the hapless victims dying for their principles, which are no different from the ones espoused by their murderers.

Perhaps, it would be different in 2013 when the P-Noy has finally leveled the playing field in electoral politics. If he fails, then the forthcoming midterm elections may just as be as highly competitive as the hunt for gold nuggets in the Wild West, where each man exercises his right to kill in the pursuit of his greed..

The pious would hope prayers would reduce electoral deaths but the malevolent spirits in this benighted land are guided less by their passion than by their avarice, to corner the internal revenue allotments (IRA) and make their 20 percent for each project meant to improve the lives of the destitute.

By then, expect the same uncontrolled flood of self-congratulation to continue ad nauseam. What they will be saying is that we are all lucky since deaths will be few and democracy shall have been made stronger.

In the meantime, just sit back and relax. Watch television, listen to the radio and read your newspaper and accept the fact that whenever we want to exercise our right to suffrage, we can’t avoid the tragedies of democracy, or the pratfalls of electoral politics based on the monopoly of IRA.

If we’re not satisfied with the government’s performance in the recent elections, we can just compare it to a passing typhoon like Juan, which reportedly killed 19 people. In a Third World country like the Philippines, tragedy always happens. Anyway, the death toll in the recent typhoons was nothing since the government actually reduced the number of fatalities.

Again, authorities should be congratulated for a job well done, a job that they were tasked to do and have been doing for decades.

We can’t blame anyone for typhoon because it was supposed to be nature at work and the good men and women in the bureaucracy should even be hailed for the good job of preparing for the typhoons. Since they prepared well, then all their actions are justified.

Being efficient is another thing since nature has nothing to do with it.

Government has been liberal with self-praise but sorely lacking in rational analysis of how damage can be minimized, how people should be saved from sure death and why the country still lost P11 billion during the few days that Juan wrought havoc in Luzon.

Perhaps, we should just blame the media. People were glued on television and the radio for news –good or bad – whenever there is a typhoon or elections. Or just castigate the broadsheets for savoring on controversies since they have a highly-perishable product to sell. The tabloids are even more unrepentant because their newsmen enjoy coming out with reportage on scandals and violence.

In that case, we can’t blame anybody. Not even the violent politicians and their cohorts because they did it because they want to serve the country. They are even forced to harass their constituencies or buy votes just to ensure their victory. We just have to contend with wasted lives. Their relatives are free to visit their graves any day of the week and honor them on Nov. 1 or any day they wish, even if they are not safe from ambushers springing a surprise in the serenity of the cemetery. Joel Paredes


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