The Leyte Third Congressional District has been gripped by a wave of violence, leaving its communities shattered and hearts heavy. The recent killings of village officials have cast a dark shadow over this once serene region. In this essay, we delve into the tragic events, their impact, and the urgent need for change.

On February 24, 2024, the tranquility of the Leyte Third Congressional District was shattered by a series of brutal killings. Five village officials lost their lives in a hail of bullets, leaving families devastated and communities in shock1. Among the victims was Barangay Daja Diot chairman Elizalde Tabon, who was gunned down inside their barangay hall2. The violence didn’t discriminate—it struck down councilman Paolo Al Mendero as well. In my stay of 8 years in the locality I was a witness to many killings and the sight is more grim than the news that it peddles. Recently , the frenzy of the deaths are more prevalent than at any time.

These killings have far-reaching consequences. Families are left grieving, grappling with the sudden loss of loved ones. The sense of security that once enveloped these neighborhoods has been replaced by fear and uncertainty. Residents now look over their shoulders, wondering who might be next. Trust in local governance has eroded, and the very fabric of community life is torn.

In the wake of these tragedies, authorities have taken swift action. The Leyte police provincial office (PPO) established 24-hour checkpoints, intensifying patrols throughout the district1. The Philippine Army has also joined forces with the police, bolstering anti-criminality operations3. Their presence aims to reassure residents and deter further violence.

To address this crisis, we must look beyond immediate security measures. Root causes must be examined—the socio-economic factors, political tensions, and historical context that contribute to violence. Community engagement, education, and mental health support are essential components of a holistic approach.

The Leyte Third Congressional District stands at a crossroads. It can succumb to fear and division or rise above adversity. Let us honor the memory of those lost by working together—local leaders, law enforcement, and citizens—to build a safer, more resilient community. Only then can we hope to break free from the cycle of violence and restore hope to this beautiful corner of Leyte.

Note: This essay is a reflection of the tragic events reported in the news and does not aim to sensationalize or exploit the pain of those affected. Our thoughts are with the victims’ families.