July 25, 2024

The Commission on Elections Abra reported 44 teachers have withdrawn their intent to serve as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKEs) while at least 122 candidates for different positions are “voluntarily withdrawing.”

“The situation in Abra is generally peaceful except Bucay and some reports in Pilar, and Bangued, with alleged terrorism and intimidation to those who already filed their certificate of candidacy,” Abra Provincial Election Officer Atty. Mae Richelle Belmes said in an interview over Facebook Messenger on Oct. 10.

She said Abra is still under the yellow category due to intense political rivalries as of Oct 10.

“With the incident in Bucay today, I have asked the municipal police of Bucay to reassess so that we can change the town’s status,” Belmes said, referring to the exchange of fire that ensued between the police and several men, who were carrying high-powered firearms on Oct. 10 at dawn.

One of the men was shot and brought to the hospital for treatment but eventually died around noon.

“The police are looking at this that is why we are requesting augmentation from Manila,” Belmes said.

She submitted a report to the national office and has discussed with the provincial police the addition of at least one company of policemen that will be deployed in different municipalities, most of them to be sent to Bucay.

Of the total number of teachers who have withdrawn from election duties, 13 came from Bucay, 14 from Pilar, which was placed under Comelec control during the 2022 elections; three in Lagayan; six in Lagangilang where there is intense political rivalry; and eight in the capital town Bangued.

Belmes added at least 122 candidates for different positions and from different towns of the province have withdrawn their certificates of candidacy.

She said they have already trained 41 policemen who will serve as special election officers and will be training 33 more, bringing to 74 the number of policemen who will replace the teachers.

She said some of the teachers who withdrew their intention to serve reported stoning of their homes. They also received reports of vote-buying that involve the heads of families.

“How can you expect the wife or the children to report the illegal activity of distributing vote-buying money? It is so difficult,” she said. –PNA