Saturday, March 13, 2010

EDITORIAL - 16 and counting

The Philippine Star
Updated March 13, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

Just two months into the official election period, 16 candidates have already been murdered and 16 wounded in 24 attacks nationwide, according to the Philippine National Police. On top of those cases, there are unconfirmed reports of political killings that are not being recorded in Masbate. If the trend keeps up, the death toll in this electoral exercise could surpass the 57 in the Maguindanao massacre - the worst case of election-related violence in the country’s history.

Murdering a rival is the most atrocious form of electoral fraud and must be dealt with harshly. Instead too many politicians have gotten away with murder, literally, during election periods, encouraging the perpetuation of the violence that has stained every electoral exercise in this country. Committing murder to obtain an elective position also raises the stakes in holding on to that post beyond any term limit, either by the murderer himself or through proxies within his family. The violence then becomes self-perpetuating, with officials determined to hold on to power at all costs, ready to commit murder again and again, in every election.

As in the murders of militant activists, journalists and members of the legal profession, the only way to put an end to election-related violence is by catching both the triggermen and the brains, and then punishing them. It must be made clear that justice is served. The next president must not follow in the footsteps of the incumbent, who has used even pardons for prisoners as another form of patronage doled out to her political allies, at the expense of crime victims.

The police said task forces have been formed to go after those responsible for the latest killings. There is also supposed to be an election gun ban and a continuing campaign against loose firearms. And yet the murders continue with impunity. The best way to discourage more attacks is by arresting the perpetrators. There cannot be political sacred cows in this campaign. Is the government up to the job? As important as making the automated elections a success is showing the world that in this country, you don’t get away with murder.

Original Story:

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