I HAD a chance to have a chat with a local government employee regarding his mayoralty bet for this 2010 election. Without batting an eyelash, he categorically said his bet saying he had many accomplishments when he was still the top local executive of the city. While I admit that I am somehow a newcomer in this city, I heard him saying that the Cogon market is now far more beautiful than the one before it was constructed.

Really, I thought. Where was I then a few days ago when I bought fish and veggies, had it not been at Cogon? Is he implying I was in Wonderland? It became obvious that this person is a supporter of the politician when he said that we need him to bring back peace and order to the city since he has the knack for it, besides having control of the Muslim communities in Mindanao.

"The Manny Pacquiao Blog". Click here for stories and updates on the Filipino boxing champ.

This scenario reminds me of a hostage situation. It's like saying, "I want something, you want something, so let's make a deal. Yet the person above might have just depicted to me a worse case of hostage crisis, because the culprit can always have what he wants whatever it takes by striking at the very core, that is, peace and order, of a healthy and dynamic economy of the city. Therefore, this is also like saying," If you don't want me to be around, I will let go of my minions and chaos will happen."

Other people would say this is Warlordism. For me, this is hostage politics because theoretically the person is poking a knife at our neck just to be in office. It is this kind of situation that we have close to 200 private armies run by politicians and warlords all over the country. I wonder how brave are these people if they have no goons around to protect them. Besides, why need protection, dear gentlemen, if you have not done anything wrong?

In this beloved country of ours, one risks being persecuted if the person tells or proclaims the errors of another. May hidden agenda iyan, others would quip. But I believe there is no hidden agenda at all if collectively the whole populace could see the greediness and blatant display of wealth, corruption and power by a person or a family. That is why they need armies to protect themselves from the disgruntled and angry electorate, not only to keep their rival's private armies at bay.

These mercenaries, with their guns and menacing look, could be used to sow fear on the populace. And if we don’t do something about it, we are perpetually bound by the ambitions of these corrupt politicians, and we are not worthy to be branded as a democratic country. We will continually live in fear; just like a hostage victim who will carry the trauma throughout one's life while the culprit gets away with the prize (it's possible also some crooked elements of the law would try to get some share of the ransom money).

No wonder my brother said to me that there is no hope for this country to raise from this crisis and that is why he left and worked in the Middle East. I told him that he is just too pessimistic and perhaps we can turn things around here for the better. He scoffed at me, even confidently stating that he will give me the latest Oakley shades and pair of Nike shoes if the country recovers from this situation.

Unless a good and capable leader will be elected this May, I don't know if I can have my prizes from him. I hope and pray that the electorate will elect the next set of leaders based on their credibility, integrity, morality and reliability, not because they are beholden or afraid of repercussions from them. My salary is not enough to buy those prizes my brother offered to me; please help me have them. (jaliviado2001@yahoo.com)