PNP welcomes signing of peace covenant among politicians in Masbate

March 10, 2010 10:35 pm 

MANILA, March 10 – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday expressed elation over the forging of a covenant for honest, orderly and peaceful elections (HOPE) in May among political candidates vying for local elective positions and leaders of contending parties in Masbate province.

PNP chief director general Jesus Verzosa welcomed the signing of peace covenant where contending political parties and candidates vowed to shun violence and vicious political rivalry during the elections in May.

The signing of the Peace Covenant was the highlight of a multi-sectoral mobilization of civil society organizations in Masbate on Tuesday dubbed “A Walk for MY HOME” (Masbate Yearning for Honest, Orderly and Meaningful Election) where some 4,00 participants joined the unity walk.

Among the organizations attended the occasion held at the Magallanes Coliseum in Masbate City were the PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP, government institutions, clergy, youth and non-government organizations.

Representatives from the said organizations converged and witnessed the signing of the historic peace covenant among political leaders in this island province that has long been considered among perennial election hotspots due to a long history of intense political rivalry, politically-motivated violence, aggravated by the local communist insurgency, and presence of Partisan Armed Groups.

Among the signatories to the Peace Covenant include Hon. Rizalina Lanete, 3rd District Representative and candidate for governor; Hon. Vince Revil, re-electionist candidate for vice-governor, and retired Gen. Darius Tuason, 2nd District Representative candidate; Mabel Bartolabac , candidate for mayor of Masbate City, and 18 other political leaders vying for various elective positions in the provincial and municipal levels.

Police Director Andres Caro II, PNP Director for Operations, witnessed the signing of the covenant as representative of PNP.

”The PNP leadership welcomes this gesture of peace by the political leaders of Masbate to once and for all eliminate violence from the political landscape of the island province,” said Caro, quoting Verzosa.

Caro congratulated the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Diocese of Masbate Social Action Foundation led by Fr. Leo Casas for organizing the Masbate Walk for MY HOME and the signing of the Peace Covenant to replicate the multi-sectoral “Takbo Para sa Malinis, Maayos at Mapayapang Halalan 2010" held last January in Quezon City organized by the Military Ordinariate of the Philippines with the support of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), Muslim Imams, and other religious leaders.

The PNP listed Masbate among nine provinces considered as Election Areas of Concern (EAC) due to the presence threat groups, history of election-related violent incidents in previous elections and activities of Partisan Armed Groups.

The communist New People’s Army has established three Guerilla Fronts in Masbate with 93 active members armed with an estimated 113 firearms.

The presence of the CPP/NPA has added another dimension to the volatile situation in Masbate with some insurgents being utilized as hired goons by local politicians.

A sizable contingent of police commandos from the elite Special Action Force is deployed in Masbate alongside tactical units from the Regional and Provincial Mobile Groups and AFP Units that compose the Joint Special Task Force Masbate that is the lead unit in operations against communist insurgents, criminal elements and Partisan Armed Groups in the province.

Last year, political leaders in Abra, another perennial election hotspot, forged a similar peace covenant that has resulted in a significant decline in incidents of politically-motivated violence in the province.(PNA)

LDV/MM

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