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LINGAYEN, Pangasinan — Re-electionist Gov Amado Espino Jr skipped the covenant signing for peaceful elections on Monday, March 24, and here's why: it will only send the wrong signal to voters since his rival will engage in dirty tricks anyway.
His only challenger, Alaminos Mayor Hernani Braganza, also did not attend the pact signing at the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist that election watchdogs, religious groups, and police officials attended.
“You are aware of the various acts of character assassination, well-orchestrated political demolition jobs, false and fabricated accusations, and harassment cases filed against this representation by our political opponent,” Espino said in a letter dated March 23, 2013, to lawyer Marino Salas, provincial election supervisor of Pangasinan, and Fr Morris Allan Abuan, chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)-Pangasinan.
A candidate of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), he is in a one-on-one battle with Braganza, who is a close friend of President Benigno Aquino III and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas.
Pangasinan has the third highest voters' population among provinces. It is among the 15 areas identified by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to be at "high risk" for poll-related violence due to politicians' intense rivalries.
The tag surprised the local NPC. This time, the regional police is saying Pangasinan will be the most closely monitored province in Ilocos Region.
Espino said he is “afraid the peace covenant signing would only serve to legitimize the violations and abuses of some PNP officials and deceitful candidates and provide them with the perfect cover-up for their devious schemes.”
He added: “I regret, therefore, that I cannot take part in a ceremonial activity, where the PPCRV and other well-meaning officials and candidates would only be used unwittingly to lend credence and legitimacy to the bogus acts of some officials and candidates.”
He, however, committed to conduct his election campaign according to the rules and guiding principles of clean, honest, accountable, meaningful and peaceful (CHAMP) elections espoused by the PPCRV and the campaign for Secure and fair Elections (SAFE) of the Philippine National Police.
Unlike Espino, Braganza has kept mum about his absence in the peace pact signing. - Rappler.com
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