BY ERNIE B. ESCONDE - MANILA TIMES CORRESPONDENT
BALANGA City, Bataan: The covenant for the holding of an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in Bataan on Tuesday failed after opposition candidates refused to sign the agreement, demanding that various agencies involved in the elections be included as participants and not merely as witnesses to the signing.
Mayor Nelson David of Limay town, gubernatorial candidate under the Nationalist People’s Coalition, led the other candidates in defying the covenant signed by reelectionist Gov. Enrique Garcia and his group under the administration Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats.
The covenant was initiated by the provincial officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) with support from the Army’s Third Infantry Battalion, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the provincial office of the Department of Education.
Instead of joining Garcia in the signing of the covenant, David voiced his concerns to Monsignor Victor Ocampo and Comelec Provincial Supervisor Elmo Duque.
David said the Comelec, PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Department of Education should sign the covenant as well as they are the principal participants in keeping peace and order during the elections.
Reelectionist Rep. Herminia Roman of Bataan’s first district sided with David, having left the camp of Garcia.
Gila Garcia, daughter of the governor and director of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, is opposing Roman in the congressional race.
Senior Supt. Arnold Gunacao, newly installed Bataan police director, said they were to act as witnesses in the covenant but if required, they will sign as participants. He considered the occasion as successful although only one party signed. “The mere fact that the other party came was proof enough that they are willing to participate,” the police colonel said.
Lt. Col. Danilo Benavidez of the Army’s Third Infantry Battalion said they are under the Comelec and that they would abide with the orders of the poll body.
Lawyer Elmo Duque, provincial Comelec supervisor, said he will hear the side of David and Roman and if meritorious will incorporate in the covenant.
“There might be a part 2 signing,” Duque said.