Pio V. Corpus, Masbate, people know when election is coming on the basis of the following: first, it is scheduled and a recurring national event as provided for by the constitution. Second, is when one starts hearing from the TV’s and the radios paid advertisements about aspiring candidates. But how about in areas where TV’s and radios are hardly heard of; where majority of the people do not read newspapers nor listen to the radio? In the community where I grew up, and in most far-flung barangays in my hometown, this is not a problem: people know and rely on the seasonal event – the SEASON of killings or the Devil’s Season as we call it in our place.How would one know that election is coming? In remote places like my hometown,
I grew up in Masbate province where election means violence and is won by killing one’s opponent; where Satan and his entourage wear barongs and call themselves congressmen, governors, mayors, etc and carry the title Honorables. Here, anyone will know election is approaching when the Devil’s Season starts.
The Devil’s Season has taken its significant toll when three years ago the late congressman Fausto Seachon, who was considered by supporters as sure winner for the 2007 gubernatorial election, was assassinated few years ahead of the elections. Until now, both the assassins and their mastermind remain scot-free: no arrests were made. Justice is as elusive as the vicious murderers that sow terror in my province.
When I went home for Christmas last December 2009, the Devil’s Season has been around already. Just a day after arriving home, a policeman known to be associated with a well-known politician was killed inside a cockpit. Two days later a former NPA commander who happened to be a close aide of a young mayor was shot, point blank, on the head while watching a cockfight. Dead. Some months earlier, a barangay captain was also slain inside a cockpit. Believed to be a hired killer by some witnesses, the assassin was in turn killed a week later allegedly by the same person who hired him. In just a year, in my hometown alone, the Devil scored 3 kills. The number of kills is expected to rise as the Devil intensifies his campaign against his opponents as election approaches to ensure victory. As I will be tallying the running total count of kills (resulting from ambushes or assassinations) in Masbate province as the 2010 National Election approaches, I will be asking the same question: what really drives these people to kill just to be in power?
Masbate is one of the poorest provinces of the entire Philippines based on the National Poverty Map 2007 prepared by the Peace and Equity Foundation. So, what motivates politicians in the province to cling to power? In a province with “most pronounced conditions of poverty” like Masbate, there is no money for politicians to steal, to begin with. Would Masbate’s conditions of poverty tantamount to a notion that the province has a less corrupt government? Fortunately, this premise does not confuse Masbatenos who spent nearly half of their lifetime, like me, waiting for change; for progress. I was born during the era of the Espinosa’s during which time I didn’t know what a TV looked like; when the main mode of transportation was carabao; and when electricity was still unknown to many. Time passed by and Espinosa’s are gone; new breed of politicians come to power and yet they only proved one thing: they are more corrupt than their predecessors.
Masbate’s conditions of poverty did not breed corrupt government; it was the corrupt government that bred poverty and put Masbate province on the POVERTY MAP.