The generally peaceful conduct of the elections on May 9 in the whole province was proof that election-related violence in Abra is now a thing of the past, said an official who had just won the local polls.
Congressman and La Paz municipality mayor-elect Joseph Sto. Nino “JB” Bernos on the sidelines of the proclamation of the winning candidates at the provincial level on Tuesday evening said: “Graduate na po kami diyan. We are graduates of violent elections (we have graduated from the violent elections).”
Bernos made the pronouncement despite a shootout between the police and the personnel of Vice Mayor Josephine Somera-Disono in Pilar in March that prompted the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to place the town under the control of the Commission on Elections.
There were also reports of intimidation and harassment that circulated on social media on election day in the said town.
Still, Bernos insisted that elections in his province were “100-percent peaceful” even as lamented how their neighboring provinces, meanwhile, seemed unable to rid themselves of violence during the polls.
“Look at the neighboring province, bumabalik sa kanila (it is coming back). Dito sa Abra, maayos na kami dito, maayos na (Here in Abra, we are okay),” the congressman said.
Bernos, however, admitted that the tension between supporters of political candidates is normal and happens anywhere in the country.
He also said that his province did not deserve to be placed under Comelec control. “We don’t deserve such a declaration. We don’t need it. The declaration of Comelec control of one town in Abra is ill-advised,” he said.
Captain Marnie Abellanida, Police Regional Office-Cordillera information officer, in an interview on Wednesday said they were “verifying four incidents which are possible election-related incidents [that have been] recorded since the start of the election period.”
The police officer also said the Pilar shootout in March was the only confirmed election-related incident in the region during the election period.
He said the earlier incident involving a candidate in Mountain Province had been ruled out non-election-related as it involved a land dispute.
Abellanida added that the arrest of the two persons for carrying a gun on election day at Lagangilang town was considered a violation of the election gun ban but not election-related as it did not disrupt, in any way, the conduct of the elections or prevent people from casting their votes.
It can be recalled that Abellanida had earlier said that the elections in the region were generally peaceful, including in Abra despite the province being placed under Alert Category red and one of its municipalities being placed under Comelec control.
Source: Philippines News Agency