“NPA” Publicly Humiliated A Barangay Bet

      Armed men who introduced themselves as members of the New People’s Army (NPA) “arrested” a candidate for barangay chairman in barangay Somagongsong (a barangay just a kilometer away from PNP’s mobile force station), Bulan, Sorsogon, days before the barangay elections. The armed men bound the candidate’s arms and feet and left him at a provincial road for hours for his barrio folks to see. They also threatened with reprisals anyone who would untie the candidate. Before leaving, the armed men reportedly announced in the vernacular: “Pinakarawayan mi na an kandidato niyo! Sino pa an maboto sini?” (Who would still dare vote for this candidate now that we have humiliated him?)

      But people sympathetic to the barangay candidate doubt whether the armed men were real NPA’s. Earlier that week a local radio station read a supposed letter from this group denying reports that they (the NPA) are requiring “permit to campaign” from barangay candidates and even emphasized their “neutrality” in the forthcoming elections.

      “This, certainly, is not neutrality but partisanship”, said a fellow candidate who requested anonymity, “And these (armed) men could have come, not from the insurgents but from our political opponents who would like to remain in power despite their growing unpopularity”, the same source added.

      The barangay candidate for chairman, Carlos Diolata, is known to be a rabid supporter of Sorsogon (1st District) Congressman Jose Solis and believed to be the congressman’s bet in that barangay against the incumbent chairman who, in turn, is supported by Municipal Mayor Helen De Castro.

      De Castro broke ties with Solis in the last local elections when De Castro opted to side with Solis’ opponent in the congressional race, the former PCSO General Manager Ricardo Golpeo. Diolata, meanwhile, followed suit and sided with De Castro’s opponent in the mayoralty elections which earned him the ire of the incumbent mayor.

      “May mga pulitiko didi sa Sorsogon na mahiligon mag gamit sin goons na nagpapanggap na NPA basi hadukon an tawo (There are politicians here in Sorsogon who are fond of terrorizing people with their goons pretending to be members of the NPA)”, the same source said.

      Meanwhile, other candidates in the recently concluded barangay elections confirmed having been warned from buying votes by the NPA or they will be severely punished. Much to their dismay, however, their opponents in the election who were mostly identified as pro-De Castro had their field day buying votes.

      In the mayor’s barangay (Calomagon), for instance, voters received from P100 to P300, while in poblacion barangay (adjacent to the PNP station) Zone 4, the highest bid went up to P500 per voter.

      Asked if something good could come out of this situation, this disappointed candidate quipped, “Not unless there is a revolution that would genuinely cleanse our electoral processes”.