Comelec chief to visit Abra to check on election-related incidents | Inquirer News

Comelec chief to visit Abra to check on election-related incidents

/ 06:17 PM October 20, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairperson George Garcia has assured the public that he will visit Abra to personally check on issues related to the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) amid reports of kidnapping and assassinations.

In an ambush interview on Friday on the sidelines of Comelec’s Operation Baklas, Garcia explained that he has been receiving different reports regarding the situation in Abra, a province that is usually declared an election hotspot due to intense political disputes.

According to the Comelec chief, he will verify if the reports — like candidates backing out or teachers refusing to work election duties — are merely coincidental or really due to qualified circumstances.


“Sa Abra kinakailangang, mukhang kinakailangan puntahan din natin do’n upang makapanayam natin ang ating mga tauhan, malaman natin talaga ang real situation.  Iba-iba kasi ‘yong mga signal na dumarating, talaga bang tinatakot ‘yong mga kandidato, talaga bang nagwi-withdraw sila voluntarily?” Garcia said.


(In Abra, it seems we need to go there too so that we can talk to our staffers, and eventually know the real situation.  We receive so many different signals; is it true that candidates are threatened that’s why they are withdrawing voluntarily?)

“Paano ‘yong mga teachers, talaga bang sila ay ayaw lamang magsilbi dahil sa may takot daw sila or related sila sa mga kandidato?  At the same time, ang pinaka-importante: handa ba ‘yong ating Philippine National Police na magbigay ng suporta bilang alternate o substitute na electoral board members,” he added.

(How about the teachers; did they quit their election posts out of fear or are they related to the candidates?  At the same time, the most important thing is that our Philippine National Police is ready to support us, as alternate or substitute  electoral board members.)

Garcia also confirmed that the wife of a barangay candidate in Abra was abducted, not in the province, but in Parañaque City.

“Meron kasing balita na gano’n na meron d’yang kinidnap d’yan sa Parañaque na asawa raw ng isang kandidato.  Vine-verify namin ‘yon at ‘yong namatay na ano, confirmed talaga ‘yon, ‘yong kandidatong kagawad sa Bucay, Abra,” he said.

(There are reports that the wife of a candidate was kidnapped in Parañaque.  We are verifying that, but the incident where a candidate was killed in Bucay, Abra, is confirmed.)


“More or less confirmed ‘yong kidnapping na nangyari sa Metro Manila.  Take note, hindi nangyari sa Abra pero nangyari sa Metro Manila, at asawa ng isang kumakandidato… kandidato sa Abra,” he added.

(The kidnapping here in Metro Manila is more or less confirmed.  Take note, this did not happen in Abra but in Metro Manila, and the victim is the wife of a candidate from Abra.)

Last October 19, reports came out that Catalini Turalba Sr., 52, was killed in Bucay town of Abra.  It is believed to be the first election-related violence in the entire Cordillera Administrative Region.

Turalba was running as a barangay councilor of Barangay Bangbangcag.  He was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

Then last October 11, at least 13 teachers from Bucay were reported to have backed out from manning the board of election inspectors for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) scheduled this October 30.

Teachers cited growing tensions in the town due to the BSKE.

Aside from Abra, Garcia said they are also looking into calls to declare Barangay Silangan in Quezon City as a poll hotspot.  However, the Comelec head said he hopes incidents of violence would not increase further, warning poll bets that Comelec would not hesitate to use the full force of the law just to ensure peaceful elections.

“Sana naman hindi at sana naman ‘wag; warning ito sa lahat ng kandidato doon at ‘yong mga nakiki-alam na maaaring hindi kandidato.  ‘Wag niyo namang sasagarin ang pasensya ng Comelec, at ayaw na ayaw nating may masasakripisyong buhay at the same time ‘yong mga tinatakot na kababayan natin,” Garcia said.

(I hope nothing more happens, and this is also a warning to candidates and to those who are trying to get involved even if they are not running.  Please don’t push Comelec to the extreme; we do not want lives to be sacrificed at the same time we do not want people to be threatened.)

“‘Wag niyong papayagan na ang Comelec mag-interfere o mag-intervene sa lugar dahil hindi niyo magugustuhan ‘yong kayang gawin ng Comelec,” he added.

(Don’t let Comelec be the ones to interfere or intervene in your area because you would not like what Comelec can do.)

Garcia earlier led Operation Baklas near Recto Avenue in Manila, where campaign materials posted illegally were removed and destroyed.

He said that they will file cases against BSKE candidates who violate regulations on campaign materials.

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READ: Comelec warns barangay, SK poll bets on poster limits, giveaways 

TAGS: Abra, BSKE 2023, Comelec, Elections, Garcia

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