PILAR, Abra – The brewing tension in the compound of Vice Mayor Jaja Josefina Desuo peacefully ended late Wednesday afternoon after a series of negotiations initiated by officials of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera following an encounter between the police personnel and the alleged armed bodyguards of the local official Tuesday morning at barangay Poblacion here.
The series of negotiations also resulted in the voluntary surrender of some 12 former military personnel who served as the alleged bodyguards of the vice mayor who submitted themselves to the custody of the Philippine Army for the conduct of the investigation by the police.
Further, the bodyguards also surrendered to their authorities some 14 assorted firearms that are mostly high-powered ones for the conduct of forensics examination.
At around 10:30 am of March 29, the convoy of the vice mayor that included a white van which came from the municipal hall and end route to the residence of the local official allegedly ignored a police checkpoint that was established by personnel of the Pilar Municipal Police Station and Regional Public Safety Battalion (RPSB) 15.
The said incident caused the police personnel to chase the speeding vehicle but the occupants fired at them several times prompting the authorities to return fire that resulted to the untimely demise of one of the vice mayor’s bodyguards who was later identified as Sandy Boy Bermudo based on the identification card that was recovered from the crime scene.
Pilar is one of the 9 towns I Abra that had been initially categorized by the Commission on election (Comelec) as a yellow area which indicates the alleged presence of intensed political rivalry among politicians aspiring for the different elected positions for the upcoming May 9, 2022 synchronized national and local elections.
The other towns that had been placed under the yellow category are Bangued, Dolores, Pidigan, Penarrubia, San Juan, Tayum, Lagayan and Tineg while the 18 other municipalities have been categorized as green areas which indicate that the said places are generally peaceful for the upcoming May polls.
In the past, Abra had been tagged as the killing fields of the north because of the occurrence of numerous election-related violence and incidents that resulted to the untimely death of inocent local officials and their supporters belonging to various political parties.
With the occurrence of the latest election-related violence in the province, various sectors are pushing for the inclusion of Abra under Comelec control for the remaining days of the election period to prevent the occurrence of untoward incidents that may lead to more violent incidents that might compromise the peace and order situation in the province.
The Comelec is currently validating the recommendations of the different election offices on what will be the status of the different provinces during the remaining days of the election period to ensure the conduct of secure, free, honest, orderly and peaceful elections on May 9, 2022.