• ‘End culture of violence, terror’

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    Bangued, Abra: The citizens group Abra movement for Change (ABC) called on the political leaders and parties in the province to put an end to the culture of violence and terror campaign tactics.

    Instead, they urged to raise the level of elections to issues such as programs of government and projects aimed at alleviating the plight of the poor, said Dante Vino, speaking in behalf of the ABC.

    He said the electorate of Abra “is tired of violence associated with the political season and is clamoring for change – one that would bring real development in the province.”

    The latest incident was the murder of a village leader of an Abra town mayoralty bet on April 24, yet the first victim of political violence a few days before the May 9 elections.

    Lawyer Russel Bragas, who is running for mayor, said even before the start of the election period his slain supporter – Mercedita Beronilla Bragas – and many other supporters have been harassed and threatened.

    The slain Bragas’ sister-in-law was even reportedly delisted as a Barangay Health Worker (BHW).

    “Bragas was found lifeless with four gunshot wounds in the back from an M16 rifle at the forested area a kilometer away from her house in Sitio Alismogan, Barangay Abualan,” Abra police director Senior Supt. Antonio Bartolome said.

    Murder raps were filed against Virgilio Timbreza and and his son Jerwin by the San Juan town police in connection with the killing.

    ‘Bloody record’
    San Juan is reportedly being touted as “Abra’s murder capital” for a string of unsolved murders since 2007.

    An average of one murder case every two months occurred in San Juan town, records from town police showed. At least 12 unsolved murders and two frustrated murders were recorded from 2007-2010.

    Villagers who requested not to be named said most, if not all 12 murders and two frustrated murders, were linked to town mayor Marcos Bautista “because the suspected perpetrators are identified with him and the victims were either his critics or were identified with his political nemesis – former Mayor Medel Taverner”.

    From 2011 to May 2015, records also bared 18 people were murdered, the most recent was on May 18, 2015 when Sangguniang Bayan member Remigio Tagudar was slain in Sitio Barbarsic, Barangay Baug.

    Bautista has not issued any comment on the killing rampage as violence and murders remain a big electoral issue in the province.

    The local Comelec here has identified violence; gambling including jueteng; environment; economic activities, particularly livelihood and employment; the K-12 curriculum and the adoption of the mother tongue; and energy, with focus on the debt-plagued Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) as among the hottest issues in this election.

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