by Artemio A. Dumlao
Bangued, Abra – The citizens group Abra movement for Change (ABC) is calling on the political leaders and parties in Abra to put an end to the culture of violence and terror campaign tactics.
Instead raise the level of elections to issues such as programs of government and projects aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor, said Dante Vino, speaking in behalf of the ABC while citing that the electorate of Abra “is very tired of the violence associated with the political season and is clamoring for change, one that would bring real development in the province.”
The latest was the merciless murder of a village leader of an Abra town mayoralty bet last Sunday morning, yet the first victim of political violence just a few steps before the May 9 polls.
Even before the start of the election period, said lawyer Russel Bragas, whom Mercedita Beronilla Bragas, 50, was helping win the May 9 polls, “she and many other supporters have been harassed and threatened.”
The slain Bragas’ sister-in-law was even reportedly delisted as a Barangay Health Worker (BHW).
Bragas, an LGBT, was found swimming with her own blood at a pasture land in sitio Alismogan, Abualan barangay in San Juan. ‘She was found lifeless with four gunshot wounds at her back from an M16 rifle at the forested area a kilometer away from her home,’ Abra police director Sr. Supt. Antonio Bartolome said.
Atty. Bragas said, “I strongly believe that her gruesome death is due to her affiliation with my group for she is well loved in the community and has no known grudge with anyone that could justify even just harming her.”
Murder raps were already filed versus father-son Virgilio Timbreza and Jerwin Timbreza, whom the San Juan town police suspects as behind the killing.
“Bloody Record In San Juan”
San Juan is reportedly being touted as “Abra’s murder capital” for a string of unsolved murders since 2007.
An average of 1 murder every two months occurred in San Juan town, records culled from local town police showed. At least twelve unsolved murders and 2 frustrated murders were recorded from 2007-2010
Villagers who begged off to be named said, most if not all 12 murders and 2 frustrated murders were linked to town mayor Marcos Bautista “because the suspected perpetrators are identified with him and the victims were either his critics or were identified with his political nemesis — former Mayor Medel Taverner”.
From 2011 to May 2015, records also bared 18 were murdered, the most recent was on May 18, 2015 when Sangunniang Bayan member Remigio Tagudar was slain by three assassins in sitio Barbarsic, barangay Baug.
Mayor Bautista has not explained on the killing rampage amid violence and killings remaining to be a big electoral issue in the province, still facing a precarious and volatile peace.
Comelec-Abra has identified violence including jueteng, environment, economic activities particularly on livelihood and employment, education with emphasis on the K-12 curriculum and the adoption of mother tongue, social services especially on the issue of doctors giving prescriptions of medicines that are not available in the government hospitals; and energy with focus on the ailing Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) whose supply has been cut several times in the past because of its multi-million debts as among the hottest issues in this election.***Artemio A. Dumlao***