BY MAR T SUPNAD
CITY OF BALANGA, Bataan – The recently concluded election in Bataan was so peaceful that it registered zero election-related incidents, the first ever happened in the province.
Local newsmen attributed this to the joint efforts of the PNP and Phil. Army, coupled with the professionalism and being matured by the candidates. “Of course, no matter how strong and perfect the security scheme is, if the candidates resort to physical harm and trouble, the army and PNP cannot guard every politicians’ activities,” said a local newsman.
“We have a zero election-related incidents last election,” proudly reported Inspector Janice Piga, PNP spokesperson.
Although some candidates and their leaders resorted to bad-mouthing, below the belt black propaganda against the reelectionists, insulting, among others, the Garcias did not bite these personal attacks against them and preferred to be low-profile and professional.
Outgoing governor Enrique “Tet” Garcia, now elected for congressman in 2nd district; his sons outgoing congressman Abet S. Garcia, now elected governor; Joet S. Garcia, reelected mayor of Balanga City and daughter Gila Garcia, now elected mayor of Dinalupihan town, were the subject of personal attacks and insults by their opponents at the height of the campaign period.
The Garcias, however, did not react and preferred on banking more on their accomplishments and visions for the province.
As a result, the public had become more sympathetic to the Garcias and got mad with their criticizers.
The Garcias, Rep. Minia Roman and their political allies had earlier forged an agreement with the Church leaders for a peaceful and credible election, although some of their opponents had snubbed apparently the peace initiatives.
T he Army leadership headed by Major General Gregorio Pio Catapang, Jr., and Lt. Col. Michael Samson, commanders of the 7th Infantry Division and 24th IB, respectively, had even personally supervised and monitored the deployment of their soldiers in their bid to have a peaceful election.
Also, three quick response teams from the Bravo Company of the 24th Infantry Battalion led by Lt. Nimrod Chris Lugo roamed across Bataan to thwart any violence. Three military personnel guarded each of the 14 substations of the Peninsula Electric Cooperative to ensure uninterrupted power supply, together with the PNP.
Officials from the Department of Education who were at the forefront of the polls noted that the voting process in precincts was smooth and the time needed to cast the ballots only took a short time.
“I can safely say that in general the election is safe and orderly,” said schools division superintendent Tarcila Javier.
The Catholic Church has also expressed fulfillment over the nonviolent polls in the peninsula as Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos commended the efforts of the teachers, the Commission on Elections, Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Provincial election supervisor Gilbert Almario said the zero election-related violence report can be attributed to the continuous security operations conducted by the PNP and AFP starting the election period on January 13.
The Joint Provincial Security Coordinating Committee composed of the COMELEC, AFP and PNP was established to plan and oversee the security operations.
-Mar T Supnad