Catanduanes bets vow peace thru covenant | Inquirer News

Catanduanes bets vow peace thru covenant

By: - Correspondent / @InquirerSLB
/ 12:05 AM February 01, 2016

VIRAC, Catanduanes—Political leaders in this island province have vowed to keep the May 9 elections peaceful and clean amid the intense rivalries among groups of local officials and candidates.

On Friday, candidates gathered at the town plaza to sign an “Integrity Pledge” for the national and local elections. The activity was organized by the Commission on Elections and the local Catholic Church.

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Among those who signed the document were reelectionist Rep. Cesar Sarmiento (Liberal Party) and two gubernatorial candidates, Vice Gov. Jose Teves Jr. (Nationalist People’s Coalition) and Jardin Brian Wong (LP).

Former Gov. Joseph Cua (United Nationalist Alliance), who is seeking to regain the seat he lost to Wong’s mother, Araceli, was represented by his wife, Nancy.

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Two other congressional candidates, former Gov. Leandro Verceles Jr. (Independent) and former Gov. Hector Sanchez (UNA), did not attend the covenant signing.

The activity came just days after Teves’ camp claimed that Cua’s supporters removed their posters in the latter’s native town of San Andres. Cua’s camp also said a former village chief identified with Teves took down the former governor’s poster from a local restaurant while posters in other areas were vandalized.

The candidates attended Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral and joined a 3-kilometer “Walk for Peace” around the town proper. They promised not to employ violence, force or threat that would “impair or unduly influence” the free exercise of the people’s right to vote. They also vowed not to offer or give bribes or gifts to corrupt the electoral process.

The candidates later submitted their signed copies of the “candidate’s manifesto” to a panel composed of Ma. Aurea Bo-Bunao, provincial election supervisor; Fr. Renato de la Rosa, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting chair; and Senior Supt. Jesus Martirez, provincial police director. Catanduanes Bishop Manolo de los Santos and Lt. Col. Zacarias Batalla Jr., commander of the Army’s 83rd Infantry Battalion, sent representatives.

De la Rosa appealed to the candidates to follow the law while on the campaign trail and address issues and platforms instead of resorting to character assassination.

“Instead, bring hope and peace by walking with our people in a continuing journey of uprooting the culture of stealing in all levels of society and aspects of our life,” he said.

Bishop De los Santos, in a message read by a priest, reminded the candidates that the peace covenant was not a mere piece of paper but a manifestation of the relationship not only between them but the aspiring public servants and the people, as well as God.

While Catanduanes is considered one of the most peaceful provinces as far as elections are concerned, it is known for rampant vote-buying. In 2013, it was estimated that over P200 million was poured into the island as candidates from representatives down to councilor bought votes for amounts ranging from P50 to P1,000, as well as through giveaways of packs of bread, noodles, soap and shampoo.

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TAGS: Catanduanes, Elections, Elections2016, Politics
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