A lot of people consider politics to be a somewhat messy line of work. A lot of things happen behind the scenes, and even in plain sight.
More significantly, a lot of politicians have paid the ultimate price, meaning their lives or the lives of their loved ones.
In politics, people – rival candidates or families, more specifically - often bring each other down, ruin each other’s names and reputations and even go as far as commit murder. This happens a lot during national elections, and even in barangay elections.
Just last October 17 in a gasoline station in San Vicente, Calasiao town in Pangasinan, Barangay Kagawad (councilor) Joseph Garcia was mercilessly gunned down by an assailant that arrived onboard a motorcycle. The gas station’s CCTV camera was able to catch the gunman approach the victim and shoot him at the back of the head. Even with the presence of a lot of witnesses, the gunman did not appear to be in a hurry.
He shot the already downed Garcia twice more, and appeared to grab something from the victim, then finally made off.
Garcia was only 1 of the 22 other candidates to be gunned down only 2 days before the barangay elections.
Also on October 17 in Barangay Conception in Malabon City, Barangay Chairman candidate Max Bernardo suffered the same fate as Kagawad Garcia. Reports say that someone approached Bernardo, confirmed his identity, and then shot him at the back of the head. The caliber 45 entered the back of Bernardo’s head and exited his right temple.
Eleven days before Garcia and Bernardo were killed, Kagawad Aquilino Gutierrez was also murdered by a gunshot to the head. While Kagawad Gutierrez was at a neighbor’s house, an unknown assailant fired at the back of Gutierrez’s head, the bullet exited his left eyebrow.
None of these cases have been solved. None of these victims have been served their due justice.
The families of these candidates can only grieve for their loss and wonder what the reason was for all this and what did their loved ones do to deserve the fate that they suffered.
With the rising number of cases such as these, it makes people wonder why there are so many willing candidates who want to enter politics.
Statistics show that during the 2007 barangay elections, out of 41,995 barangays all over the Philippines, there were 105,387 aspiring candidates for Barangay Chairman and 775,520 Kagawad candidates. The Commission on Elections has reported that there were more who filed for candidacy this year.
So the question is, why so many aspiring candidates in spite of the presence of political violence?
These barangay officials get benefits from those who are higher up. When important people come to the barangay, the barangay officials are the ones in the front lines.
We can only hope that with the steady increase in aspiring candidates, there also follows a decrease in political and election-related violence and killing. October 13, 2010