MORE or less 250 candidates in the province of Abra withdrew their bid for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) over alleged harassment and intimidation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Monday, October 25, 2023.
In a press conference, PNP Chief General Benjamin Acorda said several candidates went to his office to personally seek their assistance over the mass withdrawal of certificate of candidacies in the province.
He said the number of candidacy withdrawals in Abra is already alarming.
Acorda said he was informed about a “culture” in Abra where elders of the candidates come up with a “decision” to avoid confrontation among their relatives running for office.
Several candidates were forced to withdraw their candidacy to adhere to the decision of the elders.
“Also, there are some reports, yun ang inaaksyunan natin na there are some reports of threat na nangyari against those who filed for candidacy that resulted in their withdrawal. So yun ang tinitingnan natin. Pinapaimbestigahan natin,” he said.
“Regardless of ‘yung kung ano ‘yung tradition in certain areas, what must be uphold is the rule of law and of course, ‘yung demokrasya and when we say keeping the democracy as stated in our Constitution is to really make sure that ‘yung mga gustong magkandidato ay makapag apply or makapag exercise ng kanilang pagiging candidate without any threat or intimidation and they can be freely selected or voted upon by the constituents,” he added.
PNP deputy chief for administration Lieutenant General Rhodel Sermonia assured that the PNP is on top of the situation as Acorda ordered the deployment of more police personnel in the province for the maintenance of peace and order, as well as to address the threats being received by various individuals.
Last week, a candidate for barangay councilor in Bucay, Abra was shot dead. The incident is being considered an election-related violence.
Commission on Elections Chairman George Garcia said that initially, they received reports about the withdrawal of certificate of candidacy of 122 individuals in the province due to threats, which they are yet to identify the source.
He said he already directed the PNP and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to look into the matter. (SunStar Philippines)