Vigilantes and the Philippine Government
Marynhein D. Cirpo
The purpose of this paper is to persuade students and ordinary citizens that violence and vigilantism is not the answer to the Philippine archipelago’s present problems in terms of corruption and injustice and also to make the administrators and the masses realize that change must come from within the government. In this paper, I use interviews, library research and research on the internet to alert the readers the seriousness of the problem which is the existence of vigilante groups and to recommend a solution. I argue throughout the paper that vigilante activities are acts of terrorism and that these must be stopped with the Philippine government’s help.
Marynhein D. Cirpo
When Love and Hatred Collide: Vigilantes and the Philippine Government
“You shouldn’t ask such questions openly. We have NPA members here, you know?” “They were good people then. But now? I don’t know.” “They brought with them chaos and death.” “They’re terrorists.” [The following are translated versions of the answers I’ve got from talking to the citizens in Barangay Coronon,Davao del Sur to the question: What do you think of the vigilante groups in Mindanao?] The groups I’m talking about here are the armed forces in Mindanao that I will call as insurgency groups since they were rebelling against the Philippine government. The New People’s Army [NPA] and the Davao Death Squad [DDS] are the two groups that I I I will call insurgency groups. The following are the questions I intend to answer throughout the paper; What is vigilantism? Who are the vigilantes? Why are they called vigilante groups? What are the qualifications for a group to be called as such? What are their professed goals and what are their ways of achieving these goals? Is their existence a must in the society? How are they different from terrorist groups? What are their alarming similarities with terrorist groups? What is the meaning of terrorism and its causes? What are the goals of terrorist groups, their beliefs and justification of their actions? How do their activities affect the people, our country, and our international relations? Are the causes of the existence of such groups as I will state in the next pages, whether vigilante groups or terrorist groups can be taken as it is or are there other causes?
To be able to answer the questions I’ve stated above, I feel the need to define the terms vigilante and vigilantism. Vigilante is of Spanish origin and means “watchman” or “guard” but its Latin root is vigil, which means “awake” or “observant”. When it is said that someone is taking the law into their own hands, this usually means that they are engaging in vigilante activity, or vigilantism, although sometimes the phrase "taking the law into your own hands" is used to describe what some people call a "secret police force”. If so then the New People’s Army (NPA) is a vigilante group.The phrase does not make for a good definition. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what vigilantism is, but few people have taken the trouble to define it (Johnston 1996). Brown (1975) attempted to define vigilantism too, saying it represented "morally sanctimonious" behavior aimed at rectifying or remedying a "structural flaw" in society, with the flaw usually being some place where the law was ineffective or not enforced. The existence of NPA started during the regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos. This same man declared Marshall Law all over the country making the whole archipelago a living hell for everyone except those on Marcos’ side. NPA was then the people’s protectors. This definition implies that the phenomenon of vigilantism will be short-lived since once a flaw is remedied, there is no reason to continue, and in any event, "sanctimonious" morality which means, making an exaggerated show of holiness or moral superiority, is unlikely to be sustainable. So maybe, just maybe the existence of these groups (NPA) is needed ...