May 23, 2024
VIOLENCE THWARTED — Tension between the camp of Pilar Vice Mayor Josefina Disono and the Abra Police Provincial Office was settled after a series of negotiations initiated by Police Regional Office-Cordillera Director B/Gen. Ronald Oliver Lee. Around 14 firearms from the camp of the vice mayor were subjected to forensic examination while the 12 former military men serving as security aides of Disono are under investigation. — PRO-Cor photo

The Philippine National Police is studying filing charges against Vice Mayor Josefina Disono of Pilar, Abra and her 12 private bodyguards following an alleged shootout with the police after they allegedly evaded a police checkpoint on March 29.
Abra Police Provincial Office Director Col. Maly Cula said the sworn statements of Disono’s camp, including her 12 bodyguards who are former military personnel, were already submitted to the Abra Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
In a report, PNP spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said the firearm, which was recovered with the body of Disono’s bodyguard identified as Sandee Bermudo who was killed in the shootout, was registered under the vice mayor’s name. 
Fajardo said despite Disono having a license to own and possess a firearm, the election gun ban is still in effect. 
She said the PNP is also looking into Disono’s administrative liability for hiring private security personnel without authority from the Commission on Elections.
On March 30, the 12 security aides of Disono submitted themselves to the custody of the Philippine Army after a two-day standoff with the police.
The public was alerted with a series of Facebook livestream on March 29 with the staff of Disono asking for help, as CCTV footage showed police personnel surrounding Disono’s residential compound.
Disono, in a radio interview later that day, claimed they are being harassed by the police.
Disono is the sister of Pilar Mayor Mark Roland Somera. Both are seeking reelection. Their father, the late former Abra vice governor Rolando Somera, was killed in Marikina City in 2017.
Police investigation showed that the heavily tinted van tailing Disono’s car failed to stop at a checkpoint set up by the police at the town center. 
Pilar Municipal Police Station chief Capt. Ronaldo Eslabra said the van rammed a police vehicle and the passengers shot at another police car, prompting the police to fire back. The van then proceeded to the compound of Disono where they refused to come out and encamped for two days. 
Cula said the operation is a legitimate intelligence-driven operation, not an ambush as claimed by the vice mayor. He said the incident happened in broad daylight in the town’s main thoroughfare.
Cula said it was the 24th Infantry Battalion that linked Disono’s 12 security aides and the police.
The 12 security aides have decided to submit themselves under the custody of the 24th IB after talks between the Police Regional Office-Cordillera and the camp of Disono led by their lawyer Raymond Fortun. They also surrendered 14 firearms to the police.
Cula said they are looking into the resurgence of private armed groups in Pilar. He said the 12 personnel are originally recruited for jobs like casuals of the municipal government.
“But gleaning from the fact that these individuals are not from Pilar and are former military personnel parang mapupunta tayo sa conclusion na they were recruited as private armed group members,” he said.
The Comelec central office is conducting its own evaluation on the incident. – Ofelia C. Empian