It’s more gun in the Philippines!

Funny, I always thought it was national snack chicharon, a renowned tolerance for obvious road killers like jeepneys, the corrosive lead-laced gaseous mix that passes off for air in their capital city, toxic in-laws, and their aversion to exercise that kills the most Fillipinos. All true, perhaps. But the biggest challenge to Filipinos living to a ripe old age (by Third World standards) of 60 is a proliferation of guns.

According to the World Health Rankings website, the following were the Philippines’ leading causes of death in 2010 (cause [ ] no. of deaths [ ] percent mortality):

1 Coronary Heart Disease 57,864 13.73
2 Influenza & Pneumonia 46,900 11.13
3 Stroke 40,245 9.55
4 Tuberculosis 35,867 8.51
5 Hypertension 35,001 8.30
6 Diabetes Mellitus 18,512 4.39
7 Violence 17,152 4.07
8 Lung Disease 13,473 3.20
9 Kidney Disease 12,960 3.07
10 Asthma 10,471 2.48
11 Lung Cancers 8,518 2.02
12 Road Traffic Accidents 8,175 1.94
13 Peptic Ulcer Disease 7,423 1.76
14 Liver Disease 7,232 1.72
15 Diarrhoeal diseases 6,628 1.57

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more_gun_in_the_philippinesViolence ranks Number 7 in that list making it one of Filipinos’ top lifestyle-related killers. Violence, after all, is a way of life in the Philippines. Filipinos kill one another for the smallest things — ask any foreigner living in the Philippines and it is likely that their greatest fear will be something involving getting shot in the back over offending the fragile ego of the corner tambay. Look no further than George Anikow. He found out the hard way how much of a broad and profound cultural condition violence is in Philippine society.

This is after all a nation where assassins riding tandem on motorcycles can be hired for a hit for no more than Php10,000 (a little more than USD200). It is quite amazing that the Philippines is not on Uncle Sam’s permanent travel ban list. The simplest misunderstanding, misconstrued look, or unintended slight can provoke a massive feudal vendetta that could last generations. It seems to all stem from the world-renowned pipsqueak ego of the Filipino

Not surprising, considering the Philippines’ top government official is an avid gun enthusiast. No less than Philippine President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III insists on packing a piece despite his being under the constant protection of an elite squad of security men. If I were one of BS Aquino’s security guys, I’d feel really insulted. And insulting a Filipino (much more an armed one) really isn’t such a smart thing to do. You could end up with a bad case of lead poisoning in your back.

Indeed, as the Washington Post observes in the aftermath of that brazen SM Megamall armed robbery, the Philippines is more gun than fun

The proliferation of firearms — police estimate there are up to 1 million unregistered weapons — have fueled violence and insurgencies in the country for years despite calls from lawmakers and pressure groups for tighter gun control. A dysfunctional justice system with crowded jails and underpaid prosecutors and judges has produced a massive backlog where a criminal trial can stretch over six years or more.

If there is anything that permeates Philippine society from the bottom-up, it is a culture of crime. In the Philippines, expressedly written statements that limit or prescribe individual actions in the interest of the common good — i.e. laws — from the lowliest traffic ordinances to the highest mitigations against economic plunder are routinely and blatantly flouted by Filipinos of all economic class and social status.

All with nonchalant impunity from the bottom of the pecking order to the top: humble jeepney drivers thumb their noses at traffic ordinances, families build entire houses on public property and other lands they are not entitled to, retailers sell pirated intellectual property at high-end market facilities, entrepeneurs build high walls around their mansions to conceal their illicit warehousing activities, megastars evade taxation with a smile, and we elect our leaders to office fully expecting them to “recover” their campaign investment within their terms of office. People even walk into churches and disrupt religious services in blatant pre-meditated acts aimed to elicit publicity for their latest pet outrage fads.

What is this country coming to? Quite simply, not much.

The biggest irony surrounding this violent country is its utter lack of a strong martial tradition. Filipinos are not known for a proud tradition of victory in the battlefield. They maintain a pipsqueak military force — barely enough to fight even the most unprofessional of armed militias and bandits. For a country that prides itself in having the pound-for-pound greatest boxer in the world as one of its own, it is a mouse where it matters. With millions of able-bodied Filipino men just wiling away their time on street corners drinking beer, the Philippines is a society of people begging for a clear purpose in their lives. It is no wonder that greatness continues to elude the Philippine nation.

Well, consider the national obssessions of the moment — we look up to grotesque role models who practice various modern versions of voodoo, are transfixed by the latest political tele-circuses, and bicker amongst ourselves over how to turn precious minerals buried under our land into instant cash.

Where are the results?

Even as the Philippine Government seeks comfort in the flaccid embrace of the United Nations, Chinese warships are frolicking in ever greater numbers in the warm waters of the “West Philippine Sea” unchallenged.

It seems Filipinos like to pack em’ but remain ill-equipped to use em’ like men — face-to-face with honour.

15 Replies to “It’s more gun in the Philippines!”

  1. Absolutely right.

    Just possibly, the man in the Quezon City jeepney feels no respect for the law because he feels it has never been “his” law – to this day, the criminal legal code of the Philippines, to the great shame of the men a and women who have ruled the country for the past 65 years, is largely the Spanish colonial penal code.

  2. Whether someone is a low esteem gunslinger, has a small penis, or simply wants to promote a sense of importance, the irony of trying to create a macho image in such a subservient culture is self evident.

    big guns combined with little brains also only results in death, tragedy and social decline, where life is cheap and the law meaningless.

    The political will is not there to either change it, or even debate the issue, after all politicians are often the instigators of rubouts, whether political opponents, or in their criminal activities.

  3. Someone wanted a strong gun culture in the Philippines (Hello, Rose?). But given the poor temper of Filipinos, I would rather make it hard to own them. Ego in the Philippines makes people dangerous.

  4. Like men?

    This is the Philippines.

    One of the reason that the culture is utterly bankrupt is that the men here are so weak. Morally weak. Ethically weak. Intellectually weak. Spiritually weak.

    They will happily sell their daughters, wives and sisters into prostitution or, better yet, live like a parasite off the income of an OFW but the idea of getting a job is foreign to so many.

    No wonder so many Filipino “men” are baklas and bayots – even Aquino himself is widely considered to be gay. There are so few real men here.

    Just violent, adulterous, drunken cowards….

      1. There is an old joke amongst resident foreigners –

        “How to get the Philippines working?”

        “First, shoot the elite.”

        “If that doesn’t work, shoot the Priests”

        “If it’s still not working, shoot the rest of the men…

        … and you will see the fastest economic miracle in recorded history!”

  5. Culture of crime…..

    It-is-worse-in-other-countries-like-America comments in 5…….4…….3…….

  6. With a criminal justice system like ours and a culture of impunity, it’s not surprising people don’t respect laws or rules, much less, each other. What’s left is barbarism.

    Explains the tendency for violence.

  7. The way I see it, these culture of impunity all started when we were “set free” from the evil dictator. After the dictator left, Filipino discipline went into straight downward path. And the new heroes of our new found “freedom” didn’t think much about the future. The same lack of foresight on a lot of issues such as the future electricity needs of the country,infrastructures and much bigger issues such us unemployment.

    1. Way before then. Remember the day Martial Law was declared? Nobody even dared to jaywalk on the streets of Manila.Nobody dropped litter. By day three, everyone realised nothing had really changed and everything was back to normal.

      Go back further, before my lifetime, and I was told by one who was there that we would find President Quirino inviting businessmen to play poker with him aboard the Presidential yacht – the done thing was to lose and in the morning the steward would tell you how much you had lost by and you wrote the check and got the contract you wanted.

  8. “It is an illusion, if it is not an absurdity for anyone to claim without
    fear and reservation, that there is protection and security for the
    people in the Philippines. It has become ordinary for killings to be
    carried out by policemen, the military and the paramilitary forces
    working for them; killing in broad daylight before witnesses in
    crowded public places and in front of the victim’s family in their
    own homes. Hundreds, if not thousands of stories go unreported and
    this has been taking place in the country for many years now.”
    Human rights commission – 2011

    Recent events only underline that nothing has changed and that human rights abuses, political impunity and extrajudicial killings under aquino are as bad as ever.

    There is neither the strategic vision, political will, nor intellectual capacity to create a better society, simply to retrench the political and economic monopolies of the families who gained most through corruption in the early years post independence.

    A new breed needs to sweep away the old guard.

    Just look at the enriles.( and others) Corruption and murder, illegal imports, coco levy scam, infidelity, lies upon lies, and they get elected to continue their despicable treachery.
    The lust for power is about sel-service – to other peoples money- and nothing to do with public service.
    3rd rate lowlife in politics will keep the philippines a 3rd world country, and i suspect they want it like that. A subservient populace grateful for handouts, just as reinforced on the demeaning tv shows which turns everyone into beggars, and have to then show extreme gratitude

  9. i agree with the observation, but in compare to US they are worst than US, while comparing to Japan we are the worst….bottom line is the strick implementation of the law irrgardless of status you are on the society…however one thing I notice and sorry where is your recommendation??????????????????

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