Why are vigilantes on the rise?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Whenever government fails to protect the people, whenever the administration of justice fails to satisfy the inherent need for true and expeditious justice, the people are led to take the law into their own hands. This universal phenomenon was dramatized by John Grisham, that masterful legal fiction writer who wrote the immortal "A Time To Kill," which was made into an award-winning movie. It also started Grisham's exceptional career in writing novels and movies that showed the individuals exasperated by the ineptitude, negligence and at times, stupidity of people in government.

Another movie that illustrated vigilantism as an endemic phenomenon among dissatisfied citizenry was "Death Wish" starred by the Oscar award-winner Charles Bronson, who played a retired cop and became a secret killer of extremely bad people, like murderers, rapists, kidnappers, and robbers.

We should also remember Don Vito Corleone of the immortal "The Godfather," who dispensed justice by extra-judicial killings and summary executions. The victims of injustice would go and kneel before Don Vito, and on the day following, justice was always done with utmost urgency and flawless precision.

Today, in our country, it has been alleged that some or many of the killings of suspected drug pushers and drug users were not done by the police officers and men, but by private citizens who have lost faith in the capacity and will of government.

These people do not think that government can and will rid our nation of such social cancers, and so they decide to just do the elimination themselves of the thorns and junks in human society. Of course, the strong anti-drug and anti-crime crusade of the new administration must have inspired them and gave impetus to their vigilantism. We do not endorse this kind of social behavior, but we do acknowledge the motives that impel them.

Without the support of the community and other institutions, the police alone cannot arrest all the rascals and bring them to the bar of justice.

The prosecutors are too overworked, underpaid and many of them are either too afraid of drug syndicates or they are now captives of the drug lords, engaged and retained to give protection whenever cases are filed.

The same is true with a few scalawags in judicial robes, the judges who succumbed to the pressures of pain or gain emanating from well-entrenched drug syndicates and triads. Thus, the vigilantes have chosen to take over where and when government fails.

The conclusion therefore is both compelling and inevitable. Vigilantism is the best evidence of government failure. We do not, of course, refer to the administration of President Duterte who has just warmed their seats in power. We refer to the government of PNoy, to that of Presidents GMA and Erap, and even of FVR and Cory Aquino. By their ineptitude and neglect, they had allowed the drug trades in the country to flourish and to destroy the fabric of our society, to ruin lives and families, and place the whole nation under the chains and tentacles of the devil.

Only President Duterte understands this social cancer. And what matters most is that he is focusing on this extremely pernicious evil.

If the citizens take matters into their hands, it could only be because they feel the government needs help. And that it takes everyone to fight against this social malady.


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