Published in Manila Standard Today
By Elizabeth Angsioco
Ordinary citizens are getting seriously disturbed at the increasingly problematic peace and order situation in the country.
A cursory look into recent media reports on criminality yields the following cases:
• the shooting at SM North involving a wife, her husband and security guards. Two people were killed;
• another shooting in SM Pampanga involving minors who both died;
• the gunning-down in Negros Occidental of Niel Jimena, a reporter, radio commentator and account executive of Dyaryo Ilonggo;
• the murder of a DSWD official, Mila Dumaguit, in Makati;
• the ambush of Polytechnic University of the Philippines Vice President for Administration Augustus Cezar;
• the death of a 30-year old technician who perished in a shooting incident in Commonwealth, Quezon City where a 16-year old girl, a bystander, was also hit by a stray bullet;
• the massacre of a family of five in San Pablo City. They were hacked by a neighbor;
• the hacking to death of Ernesto Labong in General Santos City. His killer, his own brother, lusted after his wife;
• the Bacoor, Cavite Masuwerte Rural Bank hostage-taking involving four men with armalites;
• the rape and murder of Given Grace Cebanico, a 19-year-old University of the Philippines—Los Baños computer science student; and
• the death of three hijackers of a 10-wheeler truck carrying Nestle products. They engaged the police in a shootout in General Trias, Cavite.
These are the dramatic cases covered by media. It is reasonable to think that there are more cases out there that were not reported and thus, not publicly known.
I asked my surgeon daughter who holds clinic in a major public hospital about cases they have handled. She confirmed that in their facility alone, many people die from stab and gunshot wounds. Gunshot wounds, however, are more fatal with most victims shot in the head. She also said that victims come from all economic strata and are usually young. If this is the case in one hospital, it will be interesting to find out if the same is true in others.
In the mentioned media-reported cases, guns figure prominently. Obviously, criminals have access to these killing machines. I believe that criminals are further emboldened because they are armed. They feel powerful.
Personally, I do not like guns. It gives the holder the power to take away lives of people. It makes killing very easy. It increases the holder’s aggression and thus, lessens the value of life.
Haven’t we heard of traffic altercations that resulted in shooting and deaths? Or of cases of boys playing with real guns that accidentally killed people? These could not have happened if guns were not readily available.
That gun is equated with power was recently proven in the case involving the security aides of Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas. They figured in a traffic accident and ended up getting caught carrying a high-powered killing machine issued to the Secretary. They were not supposed to have that gun in the car because their principal was out of the country at that time.
Why did they bring the gun then? I think it is because of the sense of power that gun gave them. It was also the “yabang” and “macho” factors at work.
Also quite interesting is the fact that the Secretary admitted to owning FIVE guns! Is this the norm for government officials? Well, President Benigno Aquino III himself makes no bones about his being a good shooter. We have also seen photographs of other officials firing guns. I am intrigued at the message our officials are sending out with these images. Surely, this has to do with the “gun equals power” notion.
Years ago, I have heard of the advocacy for a gun-less society. There is also the one on responsible gun ownership. Really, I do not suppose that we can ever have a gun-less country because besides the police and military, some government officials, as well as major personalities need protection.
However, with the recent spate of criminality involving guns, I believe it’s high time to revisit the laws surrounding gun ownership as well as the manner by which they are implemented.
Where do all these guns come from? Why does it seem so easy for people to get hold of guns? This seemingly untrammelled access to guns reinforces the already strong culture of violence in our country.
Rebels, criminals, the rich, even government officials have guns. It appears like only ordinary citizens remain unarmed. And citizens are increasingly feeling unsafe in this situation.
I asked people on Twitter if they still feel safe with the present state of things and all those who answered said no. Here are some of the tweets I received:
@wexistence—I’m getting paranoid about getting held up. I have a number of friends who’ve already been accosted while using public transport.
@timmyduncanfan—bus along EDSA Estrella/Buendia area, 12noon, women were screaming as 4 men grabbed bags, jewelry, phones. The trauma lives on.
@riverswan—I feel safe in Palawan. For now. Unfortunately, it’s becoming more like Manila here. Violent crime is on the upsurge.
@JannMeds—no! dahil walang sinisino yan. Kahit sino ke mayaman o mamamayan ka, basta nakursunadahan ka, wala na.
@AngelTulod—I don’t.? even policemen are involved in some crimes now.
@magscafe—No because of crimes happening in one’s home and in establishments with supposedly high security. It’s alarming. We should be vigilant.
@teamswangelista—I never feel very safe. Too many guns and security guards have NO IDEA what they’re looking for when they check bags and cars.
@JulesMariano—I personally don’t. Riding the taxi is an everyday struggle for me always thinking that I’ll come across bad taxi drivers conniving with bad guys para ma-hold up ka.
@kuristiahn nope. What scares me is what happened in SM Pampanga and the not so recent Greenbelt 5 Rolex hold up. Not safe, lalo na malapit na Christmas.
People are scared. Peace and order is a function of government and we call on our officials to make our communities safe again.