Bucay town in Abra is in a state of unease as tension has began rising to a boil with big political families, who were allies in the 2019 polls, apparently have broken ties in supporting rival barangay
candidates. Although, Cordillera police director Brig. General David K. Peredo still is optimistic that the situation in Bucay “is still controllable”, as he has ordered the Abra police leadership to
institute measures to tame down the tension.

The Philippine Army has reportedly vowed to hike up its presence in Bucay by way of deploying a tank to show government control and help ease the rising tension. Last Monday’s clash between patrolling policemen versus a group of armed men at sitio Nagcasanglan, barangay Layugan where Romnick Balmaceda, from Barangay Calumbaya, Dolores town died might just be an opening salvo
of the “fierce political rivalry Abra-style”.

Balmaceda is reportedly under the wing of incumbent Bucay town mayor Jay Dominador C. Go, whose wife Ma. Cristina Valera-Go, a former barangay chairman in a village in Bangued capital town, is seeking a barangay chairman post unopposed in Bucay. Ma. Cristina is a daughter of Abra Gov. Dominic Valera and sister of Abra Vice governor Ma. Jocelyn Valera Bernos. The anti-Go camp claim the incumbent mayor’s camp had forcibly eased out barangay bets into challenging their own bets for the barangay and SK polls on October 30.

“ They started it,” a leading Abra political figure blurted out, hinting, the Go camp could be expecting retaliation. Already, the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-Abra confirmed that 44 Abra teachers (13 from Bucay; 14 from Pilar, which was placed under Comelec control during the 2022 polls; 3 in Lagayan; 6 in Lagangilang and 8 in Bangued). At least 122 candidates for different positions throught the province have “voluntarily withdrawn, Comelec-Abra records have also shown.

Athough provincial election supervisor Atty. Richelle Belmes believed the situation is generally peaceful with exception to Bucay and some reports in Pilar, and Bangued, “with alleged terrorism and intimidation to those who already filed their certificate of candidacy.” Brig. Gen. Peredo also said they still have to ascertain the situation to warrant any moves towards declaring Bucay and
some other towns under Comelec control.

Aside from policemen ordered to be on their toes elsewhere in Bucay and other areas, policemen with rifles have been stationed at the entrances and vicinity of the Comelec offices in Bangued and
in Bucay since Thursday. Comelec has also trained 41 policemen who will serve as special election officers and 33 more will be on training. Though Abra Governor Dominic Valera in an official
statement on Thursday afternoon called for calm and sobriety amidst the tension especially in Bucay town.

While condemning last Monday’s incident and “terror” wrought in Bucay for several weeks now by supposed armed men, the Governor urged the police and military to step in to restore peace.
Earlier on were reports of armed men going around Bucay especially during the dead of the night pitching on barangay bets while allegations of physical harm on several residents who were tagged as belonging to rival political fences in the town.

League of Municipalities (LMP) national chairman Joseph Sto Nino Bernos, former Abra congressman and now La Paz town Mayor and Abra LMP president, in a public address at Bucay town this week said, “I have to protect the people from these (terror).” Bernos is though allied
with incumbent Bucay vice mayor Judor P. Zales, formerly a team mate of Mayor Go in the 2019 polls, but had since changed mind to go against the latter’s wishes in the now troubled town.

Artemio A. Dumlao/ABN

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