June 21, 2024

Following reports of alleged bias of the police force, the Commission on Elections has placed under its control the town of Pilar, Abra following recommendations from Comelec-Cordillera and petitions from elected officials.

During the 4th Comelec command conference with the Philippine National police on May 4, Comelec Chair Saidamen Pangarungan said in his earlier visit in Bangued, he was assured by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera the peace and order situation in Pilar is under control.

Pangarungan, however, received a report from Comelec Cordillera Director Ederlino Tabilas and a petition from an official from Pilar of an apparent bias of the local police detachment in the municipality, including threats and intimidation to some supporters of certain candidates.

“So, with this revelation and recommendation of the Comelec regional director and the local government unit, I invoke my emergency power under Comelec Resolution 10777 to declare an area under Comelec control in urgent and meritorious cases,” Pangarungan said.

He relayed his concern to erstwhile PNP Chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos for immediate action.

PRO-Cor Director, B/Gen. Ronald Lee, in a press statement, said he has ordered the replacement of all personnel of the Pilar Municipal Police Station.

The relieved officers were replaced by personnel of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion 15 and Special Action Force.

RFMB’s Capt. Daryl Garro, along with his men, officially took over the Pilar MPS as administered by Abra Police Provincial Acting Director, Col. May Cula,  in a ceremony at Poblacion, Pilar. 

Lee said the relieved personnel of Pilar MPS are temporarily reassigned to the Personnel Holding and Accounting Section of Abra Provincial Police Office. They will soon be deployed immediately to other units to perform election duties.

Pilar is in focus lately due to the fatal shootout and standoff on March 29 to 30 between armed security aides of Vice Mayor Jaja Josefina Somera-Disono and the Pilar police leading to the death of one of the aides of Disono.

The police said Disono’s convoy refused to stop at a legitimate Comelec checkpoint, thus the police pursued the convoy. One from the convoy fired at the pursuing cops, leading to the alleged firefight.

Disono’s men had encamped at the latter’s family compound. After two days, the security men voluntarily surrendered to authorities under the care of the Philippine Army.

The PNP Abra then filed cases against Mayor Mark Roland Somera and his sister Disono of violation of Republic Act 10364, or the Expanded Trafficking in Person Act in relation to the surrender of the 12 former military men, who were employed by the Someras as security aides.   

Also facing charges of serious disobedience to an agent or person in authority are Robert Toreno and Emmanuel Va-lera, both employees of the Pilar LGU, and Disono’s helper Jericho Bufil for allegedly disregarding the spot checkpoint.

Bufil is facing a case of multiple attempted murder for allegedly firing at the pursuing police personnel.

Recently, the Disono camp also sought help from the National Bureau of Investigation, which led to the filing by the NBI of murder charges against the top officers and personnel of PRO-Cor on April 28 at the Department of Justice.

Also filed were cases of perjury and incriminating an innocent person against the police officers involved in the alleged shooting incident.

The NBI said based on its investigation including CCTV surveillance footage from the scene, what happened between the Abra police and Disono’s armed escorts was not a shootout but a shooting incident.  – Ofelia C. Empian