Monday, April 22, 2013

Feeding our freedoms to the dogs? Marinduque should be a grave Comelec concern

A barangay campaign meeting in Sta. Cruz, Marinduque

A certain non-Marinduqueno politician, in town to dip his fingers into the conduct of local elections and apparently out to prove that he could easily control it, being a very small province, with the use of guns, goons and gold, was overheard bragging about, thus: "Ang Marinduque ay halos kasinglaki lamang ng isang bayan sa probinsiya ko..." Reports of imported goons from some nearby provinces, the presence of high-powered firearms held by non-military men have likewise mushroomed in Marinduque's six towns. 

On the other hand, the campaign sorties of certain candidates belonging to one political party have deteriorated into garbage. You could recoil in disgust how these people have so disgraced themselves with their campaign conduct. Here, you are confronted with images of them spreading outright lies without batting an eyelash and with such venom.

When lies are peddled one after another, when facts are blindly twisted, when so much negativism dominates the airwaves, never mind glaring violations of Comelec rules, you really begin to have second thoughts about the outlook on life of these candidates. 

A local political pundit describes it as ‘manic’, a manifestation, he says, ‘of very desperate moves that have to be closely watched’.  A visiting balikbayan who was aware of certain periods in our local election history marked by terrorism and use of force warns, thus: “There are clear indications that those terrifying days could be repeated this time, days when houses of opponents and their supporters were riddled with bullets and poll precincts were terrorized as the whole populace cringed in fear!”. Peace will  reign in Marinduque no more.

Serious threats

Considering that this blogger’s house was riddled not with bullets, thank God, but with rocks and stones recently in the middle of the night, followed days later by sightings of total strangers intruding into his yard, men looking for their target (apparently in retaliation for certain posts I’ve made in this blog), as vigilant neighbors kept watch in the dark; considering that supporters of certain candidates are constantly and boldly harassed by toughies in motorcycles, one incident occurring three nights ago in Mogpog when a campaign organizer was harassed by motorcycle-riders preventing the victim from being present in a campaign meeting (this was reported to the local police which immediately responded and entered the details in therir blotter); considering reports of heavily armed goons in certain localities whose presence there are no longer secret now with local people getting more anxious; considering that as late as last night, such men, in addition to hired goons already in place were transported and dropped in the middle of a town; considering that a group of disgruntled goons from outside Marinduque, hired to disrupt local elections in fact voluntarily surrendered for protection to the Sta. Cruz police after making shocking revelations of physical harassments and the existence of many other groups and assassinations plots - all these confirm that the stern balikbayan’s warning has clear basis in fact.  

All these appear to be more serious now because without election violence and disruption, at stake, apparently, is the previously unthinkable downfall of a political clan that has only produced a vicious cycle in Marinduque’s political system. That’s one characterized by patronage, corruption, fraud, deception and manipulation of the helpless poor people - all in the spirit of power monopoly and greed. No less than a prominent religious leader here warned against the methods that certain candidates could resort to, "dahil may halong paghihiganti".

Marinduque’s exploited poor, living below the poverty threshold, comprises 68.3 of the population. (Based on the CBMS 2005 survey people living below the poverty threshold was equivalent to 139,349 population; Marinduque’s population in 2007 was 229,636). 

No wonder a quote attributed to a local politician’s formula for staying in power, “pera lang ang katapat ng mga taga-Marinduque”, money as the only basis for voting, a statement that must necessarily uphold that crooked concept of promoting, sustaining poverty to hold power for long - for decades, till forever, or until a people finally wakes up from their deep slumber and rise up.

Marinduque comprised of only 6 towns is one of the smallest island provinces in the Philippines.

But the present situation confirms that money alone is not enough anymore. Clinging to power by the greedy by grabbing it their repulsive and desperate way involves something much more now. This involves resorting to extreme election violence and all forms of terror. Judging by the escalating tension felt this early in all Marinduque towns, this very heart of the Philippines, little as it is, should be looked into closely by Comelec. Political maneuverings to thwart the free exercise of the right to vote, for the freedoms that we so dearly protect to just be fed to the dogs should be repulsed strongly and decisively.