Province been tagged as a hot spot area

SAMAR PEACE COVENANT. Major candidates in Samar signed a peace agreement on March 29 to help ensure that the elections in the province will be peaceful and orderly. Among those who signed the agreement, facilitated by the Commission on Elections and the police and Army organizations, were Rep. Sharee Ann Tan, who is running for governor, and Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, who is seeking reelection for Samar’s first congressional district. (COMELEC)

TACLOBAN CITY- Major candidates from Samar who are running in the May 9 elections signed a peace covenant with the hope that the balloting in the province will be peaceful and orderly.
The signing of the peace covenant, held last March 29 at the 8th Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Maulong, Catbalogan City, was witnessed by top officials of the Commission on Elections(Comelec), Philippine National Police(PNP), and the Philippine Army(PA).
The candidates who signed the peace agreement were Governor Michael Reynolds Tan who is running for Samar’s second congressional district; Rep. Sharee Ann Tan, who is seeking the gubernatorial post against Gemma Zosa; and Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento of Samar’s first congressional district whose post is being challenged by Stephen James Tan.
Also present were those seeking for the posts of the vice governor and provincial board members.
The covenant, calls, among others, for the candidates to shun any activities that will thwart the will of the electorate like the use of violence and vote-buying.
Comelec Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said that he was glad that the candidates, both from the opposing sides, agreed to sign the covenant as he vowed that the poll body will ensure that the May 9 balloting will be fair and transparent.
“Our chairman (Saidamin Pangarungan) promised that we will ensure full and complete transparency (in the conduct of the) elections,” he said.
Both PNP Chief Dionardo Carlos and AFP Chief of Staff Andres Centino also guaranteed that aside from clean elections, the conduct of balloting in Samar province will be peaceful and orderly.
Carlos, who once served as Eastern Visayas police director, hailed the signing of the agreement.
“We ask the voting public, the candidates and other stakeholders to be with us to ensure that the conduct of the elections will be peaceful and orderly,” he said.
Centino, meantime, said that he has directed all ground commanders to organize units that will be ready to address any possible election-related incidents, adding that he has received a directive from President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that the May 9 elections not only in Samar but in the rest of the country will be safe, orderly and peaceful.
Samar has been tagged in previous elections to be a concern or hot spot area due to killing incidents said to be perpetrated by either private armed groups or by members of the New People’s Army.
National Security Adviser and vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (NTF- ELAC) Sec. Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. also attended the signing of the peace agreement.
Also present were Major Gen.Edgardo De Leon, the commanding officer of the 8th ID; Comelec Regional Director Noli Pipo; and Bishop Isabelo Abarquez of the Diocese of Calbayog, among others.