As I’ve anticipated, Abra is now under COMELEC control. This happened after tensions has escalated in the past 2 weeks leading to May 9.
During the dialogue last week among candidates, concerned Abra organizations, the COMELEC and the Military, you can feel the tensions specially when some candidates were given the chance to air their issues.
Charges and counter charges were thrown between warring factions in Lagayan, and Tineg. Vice-Gov. Candidate Rolando Somera hurling strong words against opponent Ronald Balao-as for allegely using CPLA to intimidate his supporters in Pilar.
Earlier that week, the COMELEC and Military also presided a Conflict Mediation and Diffusion (CMD) between San Juan Mayoralty candidates Russel Bragas and Arthur Bautista. Tensions ran high when a supporter and sister-in-law of Bragas, Mercedita Beronilla Bragas was found swimming with her own blood. She suffered four gun shot wounds at her back.
The situation is San Juan worsens as two of the Congressional candidates has some connections with the Mayoralty Candidates. Bragas is the brother-in-law of JB Bernos while Bautista is the brother of Marco Bautista.
Fair Elections Act Violations
Numerous Elections Rules violations has been going on since the start of the campaign.
We noted the massive vote buying activities on our earlier story Elections 2016: Vote Buying is out in the open in Abra, COMELEC “joking” about it
There were also reported taking down of Candidates’ posters around Abra. Congressional Candidate Dr. Joselito Bringas has filed a complain at the Bangued MPS (Municipality Police Station) regarding two unidentified person riding in tandem, taking down his posters right in front of his campaign headquarters. So far no action was taken.
Some Candidates also are not adhering to the rules and regulations regarding placements of their posters. Going around towns in Abra, we’ve seen posters everywhere including trees. The rules has explicitly mentioned that this is a violation.
- What does it really mean when you say an Area is under COMELEC Control? This means that COMELEC, with Atty Mae Rachelle Belmes-Beronilla at the helm, has the absolute power in many aspects of the whole Province of Abra.This includes:Take immediate and direct control and supervision over all national and local officials and employees required by law to perform duties and/or comply with certain prohibitions relative to the conduct of the elections in the political division, subdivision, area or unit concerned.
Exercise full control and supervision over all national and local law enforcement agencies as well as military officers and men assigned or deployed in the political division, subdivision, unit or area concerned.
To ensure the conduct of free, peaceful, orderly, honest and credible elections in each political division, subdivision, unit or area placed under Comelec control, there is hereby created a Special Task Force which shall be composed of the Commissioner-In-Charge of the Region as Task Force head, and as members, the Regional Election Director concerned, the highest-ranking regional official of the Philippine National Police and the highest-ranking officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines assigned in the region.
Will this make any difference? As long as COMELEC maintains it’s impartiality and enforce the law equally, we can still attain peaceful and fair elections.