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AS I write this column, news reports from the United States indicate that at least 50 people have been killed in what is being considered as the worst mass shooting incident in that country’s history.

A lone gunman entered a nightclub in Florida and sprayed bullets on hundreds of people celebrating Pride Week. Fifty three people were injured in addition to the shocking number of deaths.

My heart goes out to the victims of this monstrosity. I commiserate with the loved ones of the victims as well as the entire American people.

I stand with President Barack Obama in calling this abomination “an act of terror” and “an act of hate.” As a Christian nation, let us be united in condemning this evil act, whether by a lone gunman or as an act of support for a radical group (some reports allege that the gunman claimed affiliation with the terror group Islamic State).

No religion, politics, ideology, or any other belief system can justify the murder of innocent lives. This act of terror will not further anyone’s cause because it will only unite, rather than terrorize, the Americans and the world, just like what happened in previous similar attacks.

I urge the Filipino people to join me and my family in praying for the souls of the victims.

Here at home I strongly encourage our security forces – the military and the police – to review security measures in order to prevent similar occurrence in our country.

Let us ensure the security of our people.

There have been reports that the Islamic State has already infiltrated the southern part of the Philippines. If this is true, our government must ensure that, in collaboration with local communities, we employ counter measures to prevent the rise of terrorism. We must remember that our people have already been victimized by acts of terror before.

I hope President-elect Rodrigo Roa Duterte can also focus of this emerging threat. His campaign promise on securing peace and order must include a comprehensive plan to combat terror.

* * *

These are times of transitions.

Teams from both the camps of outgoing President Benigno Aquino III and President-elect Rodrigo Duterte have started preparing the transition plan for the assumption into office of the 16th president of the Republic of the Philippines.

Media reports indicate that Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Sonny Coloma has met with Duterte appointee, journalist Martin Andanar. The meeting, according to Secretary Coloma, was intended to ensure a smooth transition on June 30, 2016.

This was the same objective of the meeting between the transition team of Vice President-elect Leni Robredo and the staff of outgoing Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The hallmark of democratic elections, aside from allowing people to exercise their right to vote, is the peaceful transition of power. As a democracy, we do not change leaders by employing violence but by giving way to the will of the people.

Let us congratulate ourselves in accomplishing this democratic feat. We often beat ourselves up complaining about our problems. For once, let us give ourselves some credit for a peaceful democratic transition – something which unfortunately eludes some countries.

Now, this transition does not only apply to government but to our people as well. It is time to make a transition from voter or partisan follower to active citizen.

Even if you did not vote for the eventual winner, you need to support government. You may have disagreed with the President-elect but you need to agree that it is your responsibility to ensure that our government succeeds in securing a progressive future for the Filipinos.

(For comment/feedbacks email to: mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.) (Senator Manny Villar)