Candidates sign covenant for peaceful May 14 polls in Samar hotspot

SAMAR, Philippines – Hundreds of candidates from the 157 barangays of Calbayog City signed a covenant to work for peaceful and orderly elections on May 14.

Candidates signed the covenant in the presence of Commission on Elections officials, priests, military officers and police officials at the St Peter and Paul Cathedral candidates on Friday, May 4.

In signing the covenant, the candidates pledges to help  ensure peaceful, clean and orderly barangay elections in Calbayog City, which has earned the moniker "Killbayog" because of the number of election-related violence there in past polls.

Less than a week before the event, a candidate for barangay chairman and his father were killed in Calbayog City, raising tensions in the area as the polls neared.

Celedonio Barbarona, Liberal Party candidate for chairman of Barangay Rizal Uno, told Rappler he was hopeful that the signing of a peace covenant would help set an environment of peace during the election period.

"Komo usa nga Calbayognon ngan usa nga Samarnon, masakit sa akon an mabati-an nga tinatawag an amon lugar sa Calbayog nga `Killbayog’ san mga tawo nga diri taga didi sa amon,"  Barbarona said.  

(As Calbayognon and a Samarnon, it hurts me to so much that Calbayog had been tagged  as "Killbayog" by other people)

"Unta kami na mga kandidato bisan man tikang sa magkaiba iba na partido magin kalmado la ngan  kaptan an amon gin huraran nga diri magin masamok an ti arabot na pinili-ay," he added. 

( I hope all of us here, even coming from different political parties, will stay calm and true to our covenant in attaining peace and end violence.)

Calbayog city saw a record of killings allegedly perpetrated by private armed groups. The villages of Carayman, San Jose, Victoria, Ginbauyan Norte and Katabunan had been placed under the election watch list because of its history of intense and violent political rivalries.

Meanwhile, Calbayog police, together with the Comelec and other government agencies, have initiated moves to keep the peace in the city.

Calbayog police chief Superintendent Jose Junar Alamo expressed hope that the people would appreciate their effort to stop poll-related violence.

"Sana makita lang nila nga seryoso kami sa aming kampanya na maging mapayapa ang election na ito at mahinto ang mga poll-related violence (I wish they would see that we are serious in our campaign for a peaceful election, and to stop poll-related violence)," he said.

"Sa mga kandidato, maging huwaran sana kayo sa mga kabataan (To the candidates, I hope you become role models for the youth),"  Alamo added. – Rappler.com