Peace and order: An election issue
Cebu City has been included among 29 election hotspots in Central Visayas with police anticipating intense political rivalry in the locale. The city was coded yellow for history of election incidents and intense political rivalry.
Other cities and municipalities in the region such as Tuburan, Cebu, were coded orange for the presence of armed groups in past elections.
Thankfully, no place was coded red for presence of armed groups, proliferation of firearms and history of violence in bygone polls.
We do not expect candidates and allies loyal to the central Cebu City political figures, Mayor Tomas Osmeña and former Mayor Michael Rama to allow the coming local campaign to descend into violence against one another.
While personalities identified with both such as policeman Adonis Dumpit and Ermita Barangay Chairman Felicisimo Rupinta perished under violent circumstances not too long ago, there is no evidence that their deaths were born of the long-running Osmeña-Rama feud.
The dissociation of elections from violence and bloodshed, if it should come to pass will be an achievement of the Philippine National Police.
This is why our policemen and women must double their efforts to run after smugglers of firearms, man checkpoints, and enforce the gun ban.
Visayans should help. Politicians’ campaign leaders in the barangays should oppose any plan to employ bullets to secure ballots. Men and women on the streets should immediately report to the police any movement of armed persons who would disrupt the peace.
Ultimately, however, in places where polls have been marred by killings, responsibility for peace falls at the doorsteps of incumbent and aspiring elective officials.
Only they can by their comportment signal that they reject violence as a means to secure power, reject that injustice in which the incalculable number of years remaining to a human life is sacrificed to someone’s lust for three or six years in office.
Only they can show that they have consciences healthy enough to seek mandates from the voice of the people expressed through their ballots, not from the fearsome force of guns.
Resorting to violence is a politician’s clearest admission that in an electoral contest based on correct criteria such as having doable public service platforms and the ability to resolve issues in favor of the common good, he expects to lose.