Terrorism strikes fear in the hearts of men; so should governance be

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AL S. VITANGCOL III

THE terror alert in Britain was raised to its maximum level as the Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the Manchester Arena attack that killed at least 22 people and injured scores of others on May 22.

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On the local front, barely a couple of days after the Manchester attack, the Maute group went on a rampage in Marawi City, fighting government troops and taking over several establishments. The Maute group is an armed group believed to have pledged allegiance to IS.

Terrorism is not a simple act of violence and indiscriminate killing of people. Terrorism is a strategy used to achieve specific political ends. In general, this tactic is used in disproportionate power struggles where the terrorist group is fighting the state or its duly installed government.

The primary aim of terrorism is to create fear in the target population and provoke an immediate and forceful response from the authorities.

On this score alone, the Maute group has already achieved its primary goal. First, the residents of Marawi City evacuated the area in fear and under threat of being killed. Second, President Duterte immediately imposed martial law in Mindanao and ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines to go on an all-out war against the terrorists. Obviously, the Maute group created fear in the residents of Marawi City and triggered a quick and drastic response from the State.

Terrorist groups, whether local or foreign, want to disrupt the daily lives of the civilian population. They want the people to change their way of life and be in constant fear. Is this not happening already? If it does, then we are living in fear – courtesy of terrorists.

For example, when we go to a mall, we have to go through a series of security checks (which my insight tells me is an exercise in futility) presumably to ascertain that we are not carrying bombs or weapons. This useless practice robs us of our time, educates terrorists on where not to place bombs (of course, not in the car trunk and under the chassis), and messes up our normal way of life.

Travelling by plane has been made cumbersome because of terrorist threats. There is a long list of items that we cannot bring on board the plane. Passengers undergo several security screenings – both from the country of origin and at the country of destination. Without terrorism, all our travel would be hassle-free.

The list of things interrupted by fear of terrorism can go on and on. These things point to one thing – we constantly live in fear and our way of living is so disturbed (as compared to the way we live a couple of decades ago).

Going back to our “normal way of life,” it can be readily observed that we are a country of undisciplined citizens, both from the aspect of the governed and the government. Why is this so?

Let us take an everyday event—public utility vehicles (PUV) loading and unloading passengers in the middle of the street, and worst making the streets their instant terminals. The PUV drivers lack the discipline to obey traffic rules. They are inconsiderate of the right of other motorists and the riding public. On the other hand, authorities are likewise undisciplined. They have a “don’t-care” attitude and are unmindful of what is happening in the streets, even if there are rampant violations of traffic rules. Why do the PUV drivers behave this way?
Because they know that nobody will apprehend them anyway.

What if the authorities strike fear in the hearts of these drivers? Of course, these drivers would then act properly.

We usually are on the receiving end of bad government service. Again, why is this happening?

For one, we Filipinos have a lackadaisical attitude about almost everything. We allow government servants to treat us shabbily. We allow them to give us a hard time and “prolong” our business transactions with them. On our part, as the governed, we lack the discipline to stand up for our rights. On their part, these public servants have a laid-back stance for they are aware that they cannot be readily removed from their positions.

What if the government strikes fear in the hearts of these public servants? For sure, these public employees would then perform and do their jobs appropriately.

We are a country overflowing with democracy and brimming with rights pertinent to a democratic country. I am not saying that these rights should be curtailed. I am just saying that we should be disciplined in dealing with our society, even in exercising these rights.

What we need is a strong government. A tough government with an iron hand to ensure that all laws are implemented to the fullest and that discipline is engrained, both in those in power and in every citizen. Once we achieve this state, then we can reap the resulting blissful life in this country.

Indeed, terrorism strikes fear in the hearts of men and so should governance be.

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