June 23, 2024

BANGUED, Abra – The generally peaceful conduct of the elections on May 9 in the 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.

“Graduate na po kami diyan. We are graduates of violent elections,” said Rep. Joseph Sto. Nino “JB” Bernos, who won as mayor of La Paz at the sidelines of the proclamation of the winning candidates at the provincial level night of May 10.

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 to place the town under Commission on Elections control.

There were also reports of intimidation and harassment that circulated on social media on election day in the town.

Still, Bernos insisted elections in his province were “100 percent peaceful while he lamented how their neighboring provinces, meanwhile, seemed unable to rid themselves of violence during the polls.

“Look at the neighboring province, bumabalik sa kanila. Dito sa Abra, maayos na kami dito,” he said.

Bernos, however, admitted the tension between supporters of political candidates is normal and happens anywhere in the country.

He said 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.”

Captain Marnie Abellanida, Police Regional Office-Cordillera information officer, said they were “verifying four incidents which are possible election-related incidents recorded since the start of the election period.”

He said the Pilar shootout 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 as non-election-related as it involved a land dispute.

Abellanida added the arrest of the two persons for carrying a gun on election day in Lagangilang 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.

He earlier said 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 placed under Comelec control. – PNA