BANGUED, Abra – The proposal of various election watchdogs and concerned sectors to place the province under the control of the Commission on Election (Comelec) is still being studied on a day to day basis.
Provincial Election Supervisor lawyer Ricardo Lampac stated that aside from the previous violent incidents that transpired in Pilar and Bangued towns the province still remains to be generally peaceful as the campaign period for the May 9, 2022 synchronized national and local elections will be entering the final leg after the short Holy Week break.
Lampac claimed that the decision to place Abra under Comelec control will be done by the poll body, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in consultation with concerned sectors in the province to ensure the conduct of a secure, free, honest, peaceful and orderly elections to negate the image of the province as a conflict-stricken area during the political season.
The Comelec official disclosed that ranking Comelec officials including the newly appointed Chairman and a number of Commissioners, the PNP chief and the AFP chief will be visiting the province anytime this week to assess the prevailing situation and the security preparations for the upcoming polls to guide them in their decisions whether or not to place Abra under Comelec control.
He asserted that there might be intervening factors that may happen anytime that is why the Comelec and security officials are closely monitoring the peace and order situation and the developments in relation to the conduct of the elections in the province before handing their decision to place Abra under Comelec control for the rest of the campaign period until the election is over just to ensure law and order will prevail to avoid unnecessary loss of lives and damage to properties due to election-related incidents and violence that can erupt anytime because of intense political rivalry.
Previously, Abra was known as the killing fields of the north because of the commission of numerous election-related violence and incidents that caused the untimely death of innocent politicians and their supporters due to intense political rivalry and the presence of private armed groups (PAGs) being maintained by politicians wanting to hold on to power for the longest time.
The election officer underscored that the active participation of vigilant election watchdogs and concerned sectors in the election process has greatly contributed in containing the occurrence of election-related violence and incidents although there were still isolated cases that were able to transpire in some areas.
Earlier, the Comelec tagged as yellow areas some 9 towns in the province because of the alleged presence of intense political rivalry among politicians aspiring for the different elected positions in the upcoming polls.
The towns that had been categorized as yellow areas include Bangued, Tayum, Dolores, Pidigan, Penarrubia, Pilar San Juan, Lagayan and Tineg although the same is still being currently validated by the concerned election offices for their final categorization that may be handed down by the poll body anytime soon.