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Sinas to PRO3 chief: Resolve political trouble in N.Ecija

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) chief, General Debold M. Sinas yesterday ordered the Central Luzon police to resolve the ongoing political tension in Jaen, Nueva Ecija which has been rocked by violence amid the hotly-contested mayoralty seat by former Mayor Sylvia Austria and incumbent Mayor Antonio Esquivel.

Tension has gripped the 3rd-class municipality since last month with a ‘kagawad’ in Barangay Lambakin and a ‘tanod’ being killed early this month followed by an explosion in Poblacion Jaen on Tuesday night.

“I have instructed the PNP Regional Director for Central Luzon, Police Brigadier General Valeriano de Leon to make representations with the Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Office for an immediate solution that will diffuse the ongoing political tension in Jaen, Nueva Ecija,” said Sinas.

According to the PNP chief, the explosion at 8:00 p.m. onTuesday in Poblacion Jaen has all the indications of political motive apparently related to the contested mayoral seat of Jaen. This is already the second incident of this nature—with striking similarities to the first incident of explosion and power blackout on December 20, 2020,” he said.

“Incidentally, in both explosions, post-blast investigation shows similarities in the bomb signature and components used in the construction of both IEDs, indicating the possibility that it may be the handiwork of the same suspect,” he added.

Sinas said that for the meantime that the PNP is awaiting further orders from DILG, “My instruction to RD, PRO3 is to ensure that a safe buffer is maintained between both parties and their supporters to prevent possible direct confrontation and escalation of violence.”

“I urge both parties to keep their respective political supporters under control and to refrain from taking actions detrimental to public order and safety. The PNP will not take sides on this political contest, but will be firm and decisive in enforcing the law and implementing legal orders,” he said. A new Nueva Ecija Police Provincial Office director in the person of former San Juan City police chief, Colonel Jaime O. Santos has been installed two weeks ago.

Last February 5, Bgy. Lambakin ‘kagawad’ Florencio Cajcom Jr.’ and ‘tanod’ Armando Pring were shot dead by still unidentified motorcycle-riding assassins. The victims were on board a motorbike when they were killed.

There has been tension in the municipality since the time supporters of Austria entered the Jaen municipal hall compound and were met by supporters of Esquivel.

The supporters of Austria carried a copy of the Sangguniang Bayan resolution which recognizes her as the duly-elected mayor.

It turned out that Austria was declared the winner in the May 2019 elections but she stepped down from officer last December after a local court issued a decision favoring Esquivel’s election protest.

However, the Commission on Elections’ 2nd Division last January 12 issued a status quo-ante order reinstating Austria as the mayor of Jaen, a decision rejected by Esquivel.