BANGUED, Abra – Vice governor Ronald Balao-as reported local officials and concerned stakeholders are now closely working together to erase the bad image of the province as a violent-stricken locality where there are frequent killings, saying that politically-motivated killings have significantly decreased through the years.
Balao-as, who also chairs the unified Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army (CPLA), said local officials respect the view of President Rodrigo Duterte who recently criticized the spate of killings in the province during his meeting with Cordillera leaders in Manila Tuesday, saying that the peace and order situation in the province is far better to date compared to the early 1990s up to 2007 where the drastic change in leadership gave rise to the awareness of the people to the value of peace and unification.
“Much had been done and we will continue to sustain the various peacekeeping initiatives that have contributed in improving the overall peace and order situation in the province, We continue to engage all sectors of the community to help us that is why we are slowly gaining headway in our efforts to achieve lasting peace in Abra,” Balao-as stressed.
The vice governor claimed one initiatives undertaken by the provincial government was to tap indigenous peoples (IP) leaders to help in resolving conflicts involving their fellow IPs so that said problems will not escalate to full blown violence, an image of the province not only in the national but also in the international scene.
While there are killings in the different parts of the province, Balao-as claimed these killings are triggered by personal vendetta because of old grudges and not actually politically motivated because the present batch of politicians province-wide know the value of sustaining the gains of peace and order initiatives from the past.
He explained local officials will treat the President’s criticism on the peace and order in the province as an inspiration for them to further strive harder in finding lasting solutions to the killings that are personal in nature to eventually remove the tag of the province as the killing fields of the north, saying that people should visit Abra from time to time to witness the gains of their peace initiatives and to appreciate the hidden scenic tourist spots in the different municipalities and contribute in uplifting the status of tourism province-wide.
Aside from engaging concerned stakeholders to help in sustaining the gains of peacekeeping initiatives in the province, Balao-as disclosed the provincial government, through the leadership of Gov. Maria Jocelyn Valera-Bernos, embarked on aggressive infrastructure and tourism development in potential tourist destinations so that people will be enticed to make Abra one of their preferred destinations.
He asserted peace and order is part of the priority programs of the present administration and it is aligned with the primary program of President Duterte which is peace and unification for overall countryside development.