By Artemio Dumlao
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – Recent events challenging stability in Abra ahead of the 2013 polls has posed a bigger challenge for the Cordillera police “to remove irritants.”
“This early, we are aggressively eliminating factors that contribute to instability,” Cordillera police director Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong said following two daring attempts to sneak in flying voters in Dolores and the province’s capital town, Bangued, while the voters’ registration was ending on October 31.
As the registration of voters were about to end on Wednesday, Mila, the wife of Bangued mayoralty bet Dominic Valera, allegedly tried to sneak in flying voters from Bucay town but was ably prevented by Comelec-Bangued election supervisor lawyer Mae Richelle Belmes in a tension-filled situation in their compound.
Reportedly harassed to the hilt by the politician’s wife, Belmes stood her ground not to list-up flying voters from Bucay upon careful verification that their documents did not match their personal circumstances.
Foiled, Mrs. Valera even warned of suing Belmes for her action, authorities reported.
Belmes’ vehicle two years ago was peppered with bullets right in front of her house in La Paz town, also in Abra apparently to scare her.
Also in Dolores town on that same day, Magalong, sacked PO2 Jithelo Tuazon, escort of La Paz town Mayor Joseph Bernos and other policemen together with the mayor also tried to sneak in flying voters from La Paz to register.
But policemen thwarted the attempt and a near skirmish between Bernos and Dolores Mayor Robert Seares, Jr.
Even before that spat between the two town executives, Bernos engaged Comelec Dolores town officer Adriano Bernardino with a heated argument about the registrants he brought.
The police-escorts of Bernos, who escorted the flying voters, were sent back to the regional headquarters in Camp Dangwa here for investigation and were disarmed of an MP5 submachine gun and a .45 caliber pistol.
More than a month ago, the board election of the Abra Electric Cooperative was also marred with near skirmishes between rival politicians backing their own bets in a single seat in the cooperative’s policy making body.
Magalong, together with Abreco General Manager Loreto Seares, Jr., were shocked at why even a simple cooperative election turns that way.
“My goal is not to make (Abra) under Comelec-control,” the Cordillera police chief said, saying, this early, with the challenges, they are on their move to removing irritants in the stability of Abra toward the election period.”
Magalong said he and the police ‘are with (us) stakeholders in the province supporting the goal to at least bring more peace in Abra.’