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EDITORIAL - No end to armed violence

While security forces confront renewed terrorist activities in Mindanao, armed violence continues to undermine other aspects of life in the country. Over a month since the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, killings related to BSKE political rivalries continue. In the first two days of December, two barangay captains have been shot dead, one in President Marcos’ home province Ilocos Norte and the other in Zamboanga del Sur.

Helen Abrigado, who was reelected as captain of Barangay Ferdinand in Marcos town, had just attended a lantern parade on Dec. 1 and was on her way home with companions in a government van when they were waylaid by two men on a motorcycle. She died from multiple gunshot wounds.

The next morning in Zamboanga del Sur, Jerry Olaier was walking in Guipos town, where he is the newly elected captain of Barangay Poblacion, when two men shot him. Relatives told probers that Olaier was planning to vie for the presidency of Poblacion’s association of barangay captains.

After several postponements, the BSKE finally pushed through last October, thanks to the Supreme Court. While allowing the polls to push through on that date instead of much earlier, the SC cut short the term of the current BSK officials from three years to two.

People thought the shortened term would discourage BSK candidates from eliminating their rivals through murder. They thought wrong: deadly armed violence marred the BSKE long before the start of the official campaign period until past election day.

Abrigado and Olaier were just the latest victims of violence believed related to village political rivalries. This can be established only with the arrest of the perpetrators – both the brains and the triggermen, who could be hired guns.

The killings also highlight once again the need for tighter gun control. Even non-politicians are being murdered – in their homes, on the streets and in public buses. Authorities must also draw up measures that can minimize the use of motorcycles in criminal activities. On Dec. 1, an employee of an electric cooperative was shot dead and his companion wounded by two men on a motorcycle in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi. Probers said the two men were