BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) filed trafficking complaints against the mayor and vice-mayor of Pilar town at the Abra provincial prosecutor’s office for recruiting 12 ex-military men into becoming their security personnel.
Police lodged complaints for the violation of Republic Act 9208 as amended by RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Person Act against Mayor Mark Roland “Maro” Somera and his sister, Vice-Mayor Jaja Josefina Somera Disono, on April 6.
The case against siblings Somera and Disono stemmed from the car chase and stand-off at Disono’s residence on March 29, after the Toyota High-Ace van carrying Disono’s bodyguards disregarded a PNP checkpoint in the town center. The van was behind the vehicle of the vice mayor that was allowed to pass the checkpoint.
The PNP said passengers of the van shot at them prompting the officers to return fire. The vehicle also hit two police officers at the checkpoint and crashed against several vehicles as it sped off. The van entered the Disono compound during the chase, forcing a stand-off, which ended peacefully the following day.
Disono’s 12 bodyguards surrendered to the police and military. The vice mayor’s camp also turned over 14 licensed guns.
Disono’s security aides also face charges for violating Article 151 of the Revised Penal Code (Serious Disobedience of Lawful Orders of Agent of Person in Authority) for disregarding the PNP and Comelec checkpoint.
In an interview with local the media, PNP Abra Information Officer Major Edwin Sergio said only four of Disono’s bodyguards were involved in the checkpoint incident. Named in the case are Jericho Toreno Bufil, Robert Boreta Toreno, and Emmanuel Nicanor Valera.
Sandee Boy Bermudo, who was killed in the incident, was also included in the case.
Bufil also faces multiple attempted murder complaints for allegedly firing at PNP personnel during the car chase. A handgun recovered by Scene of the Crime Operatives inside the van tested positive for gun powder residue.
The police also endorsed a separate complaint against Somera and Disono to the Commission on Elections regional office for violation of RA 7166 in relation to Batas Pambansa 881 or the unauthorized employment of bodyguards.
Sergio clarified that at the moment, Somera is only facing trafficking-in-person charges together with Disono. The COMELEC gun ban violation, however, was added to charges against Disono.
Somera and Disono are running for reelection under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). Their contenders are Nacionalista Party’s mayoral candidate Tyron Beroño and vice mayoral aspirant Samson Laguesma.
Meanwhile, two more councilor bets allied with the incumbent officials backed out from the race. Incumbent councilor George Dela Rosa Sotelo and Cresencia Sotelo Ferido filed their Statement of Withdrawal of Certificate of Candidacy at the COMELEC Pilar office on April 7.
Five candidates for councilor from the Somera-Disono slate — Macario Guzman, Timoteo Dasalla, Rogelio Ciervo, Teresita Doral and Leilanie Dasalla, also withdrew their candidacy on April 6. Based on the official COMELEC candidates list, Mario Bañez is now the only KBL candidate for councilor in the municipality.
The COMELEC placed the town of Pilar under Yellow Alert, indicating intense political rivalry among the candidates.
In his April 8 text message, Abra Provincial Election Officer Ricardo Lampac said the national joint security command are still assessing the situation in the area whether to maintain or elevate the town’s alert level. – Rappler.com