History of violence: Abra back on list of election hot spots
CAMP DANGWA, Benguet — Despite its efforts to keep the peace, Abra province is back on the “hot spot” list of the police for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections scheduled in May, according to a top police official.
“There has always been a history of violence every time there are elections in Abra,” said Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, Cordillera police director.
The province had been removed from that list in recent elections after a big drop in crimes attributed to political rivalries among influential families there.
But on Jan. 26, two grenades were thrown during a town fiesta in La Paz town, killing two policemen and hurting 26 others, including Mayor Menchie Bernos and her husband, Abra Rep. Joseph Bernos.
Three suspects faced charges for the blasts after investigators gathered corroborating statements from witnesses, Carranza said. But he did not say if the attack was the justification for including Abra in the election watch list.
In an earlier statement, the Bernoses said they believed the attack was politically motivated.
As an initial measure, Carranza instructed the police to hunt people with warrants of arrest for killings in Abra.
He also asked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to provide the Cordillera police with a list of politicians allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
Carranza said the police would file cases against politicians implicated in drug trafficking or drug use before they file their candidacies for the barangay and SK polls. Identifying candidates with drug ties would “enlighten” voters, he said.
Twenty-one former and incumbent Abra officials were included in the so-called “narcopolitics” list released by President Duterte last year. —Karlston Lapniten
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