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PROPAGATING THE CULTURE OF VIOLENCE

Fears are rife among political observers that the 2010 election would be the bloodiest
political exercise our nation’s history.

I just hope that they are wrong, but when you come to think of it, their worries have some
real basis. At least 57 lives were wasted in Maguindanao just hours after Comelec opened
its doors to those who seek elective posts! More than 30 journalists perished on that
incident that can be equated as a crime against humanity.

Information has it, that the number of politicians running for elective positions that are
supported by private armies is growing in spite of government’s warning against it and
the creation of a body to tear them down.

The warning came from the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism
Research who called on the authorities to make immediate action against what they call
“entrepreneurs of violence” that are openly hired as goons of politicians all over the
country.

But what makes politicians employ violence to win in an election?

I believe that this thought had its pedigree from the success of political warlords who
through generations have successfully maintained their fiefdom. Having political control
and influence over an area could bring in vast power and wealth.

The strategy must have influenced the new breed of politicians who, because of
insatiability and the amazing sensation of power, would no longer want relinquish the
position other than their own family. The process created pseudo structures in governance
that in reality are merely formed to secure the family’s interest in maintaining their
fiefdom. The private army, they thought, could complete this control albeit temporarily as
it could only bring in more violence from those who want to seize control, and or from
those who were felt aggrieved by the excesses of the armed goons.

It seems that we are all hopeless against this. Police Director General Versoza is pleading
the politicians “to abandon violence… and make this coming election a peaceful one.”
Since that start from the filing of the certificate of candidacy, more than 90 people have
died in election related violence. This figure is on track to surpass the 189 deaths during
the presidential election of 2004.

Some believed that Filipinos loved guns, thus making creating private armies would not
be difficult. Buying guns in this country is like buying candies, and that gun dealers are
too much willing to assist the buyers to secure a license. There may be some truth in it,
but maybe it is about the philosophy of how to achieve power makes our elections
violent.
According to some strands of thought, such as those associated with Machiavelli,
Hobbes, and Weber, politics is about power and power relies on violence as its key
instruments.

However, too much violence as experienced, diminishes the power of those who employ
it. Some of those under the control of governments employing violence to rule would
certainly meet resistance along the way, and until fundamental changes are made, the
conflict would just swell to a point where the resistance would also use violence as a
method against its political leaders.

Violence brings nothing more but more hatred. I read several papers about the effects of
political violence to the different sectors of the society, and they are one in the conclusion
that political violence is the primary root that yields the culture of violence in a society.
To the children, the implications are sad and politically very serious – a person who is
unable to trust and unable to create lasting and respectful relationships including
friendship, political alliances and working relationships.

Thus, every time violence erupts during election, it reinforces the credence that
aggressive attitudes and violent behavior are normal and acceptable in an environment
where violence is viewed as an acceptable way to get and maintain power and to solve
problems.

And the cycle goes on.

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