THE signing of a peace covenant among candidates seeking provincial seats was held Thursday during the Mass of Commitment officiated by Monsignor Victorino Rivas, Vicar General of the San Sebastian Cathedral.

“We in Negros should be one for a peaceful election. The candidates should reflect the image of Christ who sacrificed for the salvation of the people. You should testify the goodness of the Lord “, Rivas said during his homily.

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Rivas also said although it is hard but we should aspire for honest and orderly elections. “We come together to assure the people that this is going to be a true exercise of democracy where the freedom of choice is respected”, he said.

The signing of the peace covenant was initiated by the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office (Noppo), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Diocese of Bacolod.

It was witnessed by Western Visayas Police Director Isagani Cuevas, Interior and Local Government Provincial Director Joy Madayag, Comelec Provincial Supervisor lawyer Jessie Suraez, Noppo Director Manuel Felix, Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) represented by Cely Trio, and Col. Francisco Patrimonio, Deputy brigade Commander of the 303rd Infantry Brigade.

The covenant stated that the candidates will uphold the constitution, obey all laws and ordinances of the land, including the pertinent Comelec Memoranda/resolutions governing the conduct of peaceful, orderly, honest and credible elections coming this May 10, 2010.

That they will conduct themselves in a gentlemanly manner in all their dealings with their fellow candidates and will only discuss legitimate political issues and lay down their platform of government through free and friendly manner and that they will renounce the use of threats, violence, force, intimidation, partisans and private armed groups and such other illegal means in the furtherance of our political interests.

Among those who signed the peace covenant were gubernatorial candidate Rafael “Lito” Coscolluela and his running mate Dr. Enrico Elumba of Aton Tamdon Utod Negrosanon (Aton) Party.

United Negros Alliance (UNA) gubernatorial candidate, Sagay City Mayor Alfredo Marañon and his running mate Congressman Genaro Alavrez will be signing the covenant Friday.

“It is with deep regret that I was not able to attend the signing of the Peace Covenant due to an earlier commitment. Fact is, Sagay City is celebrating its 14th Sinigayan week-long festival and activities which I had to attend to were already scheduled way ahead. Besides, my office unfortunately received the invitation just before 5 p.m., Wednesday only and it was too late for me to cancel my commitments. Rest assured that I am ready to sign and honor the peace covenant today during Sagay’s Charter Anniversary in the presence of Police Provincial Director, Superintendent Manuel Felix, along with my running mate, Congressman Genaro Alvarez and other candidates under the United Negros Alliance”, Marañon said.

He added that since they filed their certificates of candidacy, they have acted with utmost care and followed all Comelec guidelines regarding political campaigning.

Other provincial candidates who signed the covenant Thursday were Ernesto Librando, congressman (first district); Silay mayoralty candidates Carlo Gamban, lawyer Janus Jarder for Edwin Velez, Vice Mayor Mark Andrew Golez for incumbent Mayor Jose Montelibano and German Valladares. Valladares brought his megaphone during the signing. Oscar Montilla mayor (Sipalay City); Alfonso Baguio, mayor (Toboso); Mario Magno and Dr. Florenda Tubillara, mayor (San Enrique); Ricardo Presbitero, mayor (Valladolid); Maria Gina Montilla Lizarez, vice mayor (Sipalay City); Maria Victoria delos Santos and Abner Jardinico, vice mayor (San Enrique); Gloria Samson and Carmela Mailim, vice mayor (Valladolid).

Candidates for Board Members who signed the covenant were Patrick Lacson, second district; Joben Alonzo, fourth district; Ted Romulo Del Rio, fifth district; Darwin Destacamento, fifth district; and Edy Delos Reyes, fifth district. (Teresa Ellera-Dulla)