Political killings: La Union turning into Abra

November 22, 2018

POLITICAL killings in La Union are becoming rampant prompting a senator to liken the province to election hotspot Abra.

According to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, La Union seemed to have taken the place of Abra where incidents of political killings rise during elections. “Parang sunud-sunod na ang nangyari sa La Union,” he said during a recent forum. “I think the PNP should exert extra effort and focus on the political situation in La Union. Kasi nagkakaroon na ng pattern eh,” he added.

Lawmakers in La Union are  in favor of declaring La Union as an election hot spot to prevent lawless elements from sowing terror there.  La Union Rep. Pablo Ortega has already asked  the PNP and the NBI to speed up their investigations on the killings as the incidents have tainted peace and order in La Union. He likewise urged residents to cooperate with authorities to unmask the perpetrators of the crimes.

On the other hand,  Rep. Sandra Eriguel said placing the province under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) would ensure that military and police personnel would be deployed across the province.

In reaction to these calls, the Comelec said it is amenable to proposals to declare La Union as an election hot spot or area of immediate concern. Noli Pipo, Comelec regional director, said they are waiting for the evaluation and recommendation of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He said a meeting with the PNP and AFP is being scheduled  to assess the situation in La Union.

Joel Gines, Comelec provincial supervisor, said placing La Union under Comelec control would ensure the presence of security forces and safety of residents.

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra agreed to look into the killings in the province. He revealed the NBI is keeping a tight watch of what’s happening on the ground. Likewise, DILG officer-in-charge Eduardo Año said he will recommend La Union to be declared as “election hotspot.”

Last November 14, Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion was assassinated. On October 1, Sudipen Mayor Alexander Buquing was killed. Former Second District Representative Franny Eriguel was slain on May 12, 2018.

Eriguel, who was also a former medical doctor and mayor, was gunned down by unidentified armed men during a miting de avance in Barangay Capas, Agoo.  Eriguel and two of his civilian companions were declared dead on arrival.

Buquing received multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of his body in Bangar town when he was ambushed  on his way home to Sudipen.  He was rushed to a hospital, but was declared dead on arrival. His driver and his police guard were also killed.

The latest victim of political violence in the province was Concepcion and his security escort who were killed in Barangay Cabuaan. Concepcion’s daughter, Balaoan Mayor Aleli Concepcion, was also wounded by gunmen but survived the gruesome incident.

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