Town seeks to shed hot spot tag via covenant
JONES, Isabela — Days after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared this town as an election hot spot, candidates and voters on Friday signed a covenant and pledged to help make the elections peaceful.
Fr. Saturnino Talosig, Holy Rosary Parish priest, said the covenant signing was done to show commitment to heed election laws and shed the “image of a violence-marred town.”
Jones, along with Mindanao, Abra province and Lope de Vega town in Northern Samar province, was classified as Category Red and would be under the control of the Comelec.
The declaration came in the wake of election-related cases of violence in these areas in the last two elections.
In the past four elections, this town had been declared either as a hot spot or an area of concern by the Comelec due to cases of town hall burning, ballot snatching and killings.
Armed men, suspected to be New People’s Army rebels, shot and killed Jones Vice Mayor Ronaldo Lucas on April 13, 2016, shortly after they detained him and his companions for allegedly violating a rebel campaign agreement.
Lucas was serving the term of Vice Mayor Florante Raspado, who was killed inside the Jones town hall in April 2015.
In May 2016, unidentified assailants ambushed a vehicle carrying supporters of a mayoral candidate, killing three people.
Caravan for peace
Before the signing of the peace covenant, 250 policemen and motorcycle riders joined a caravan for peace.
In Bulacan province, candidates for top posts also held a unity walk and signed a covenant for peaceful elections.
Elmo Duque, Comelec assistant director in Central Luzon, said the peace covenant signing at the Barasoain Church in the city of Malolos aimed to ease tension among candidates during the campaign period starting next week. —Reports from Villamor Visaya Jr. and Carmela Reyes-Estrope
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