CATBALOGAN CITY, Philippines –A signing of a peace covenant to ensure a peaceful 2013 election will take place in Samar, one of the country’s hot spots areas, this week.
No less than the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas will witness the signing of the covenant between the police, church leaders and local candidates in Samar.
Police Chief Superintendent Elmer Soria announced today, January 10, that Secretary Roxas’ visit in Samar is an indication that the government is serious in ensuring a secured and fair elections especially in “priority areas.”
The signing of peace covenant scheduled on January 13 at the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in Calbayog City is a PNP-initiated effort in coordination with the Diocese of Calbayog and other stakeholders like the DILG, Commission on Elections and counterparts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“This activity is an ideal way to encourage the candidates to commit themselves to support peaceful and orderly elections. The beauty of democracy shines brightly with upright leaders, enlightened citizenry and vigilant community,” Soria said.
According to a program obtained by this writer, Most Rev. Bishop Isabelo Abarquez will officiate a pontifical mass followed by the signing proper of the manifesto and blessing of peace covenant.
Aside from Sec. Roxas, COMELEC Regional Director Jose Nick Mendros, Major General Gerardo Layug of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division and other stakeholders will also attend the occasion while local candidates running for elective posts in the province and in the cities of Catbalogan and Calbayog have also confirmed their attendance in the activity.
Records shows Samar, with a voting population of 481,275 in its two cities and 24 municipalities, was listed in the DILG list of “priority areas” owing to its history of poll-related violent incidents and presence of private armed groups and New People’s Army in the area.
To ensure a peaceful conduct of the May 10, 2013 elections, the Regional Special Operations Task Group (RSOTG) was activated to go after the remaining private armed groups operating in the province and intensify the campaign against loose firearms.
The move was in line with the SAFE 2013 program of the PNP to ensure a ‘Secured and Fair Elections’ not only in Samar but the entire Eastern Visayas region, it was learned.