Bad News: Abra’s Violent Politics Claims Two More Lives

Ano bang meron ang hangin sa Abra at masyadong marahas ang pulitika doon? The latest victim is Abra Representative Luis Bersamin Jr. who was killed December 16 at the Mt. Carmel Church in Quezon City where he attended a niece’s wedding. His bodyguard, policeman Adelbo Ortega was also slain. More information here.

A church is supposed to be a safe place where one can lay one’s guard down but maybe its precisely this sense of safety that makes it easy for political assassins to target their victims. Maybe these killers have been getting pointers from mafia movies where protagonists are killed right after they get out of churches. (Like in the Godfather movies, you know.)

In October 2002, Tineg Mayor Clarence Benwaren was killed inside a church in Laguna where he also attended a wedding. Details here and here.

Apart from Congressman Bersamin and Mayor Benwaren, other Abra politicians killed in the recent past are: La Paz Mayor Ysrael Bernos in January 2006 (assasinated while he was watching a basketball game); Tubo Mayor Jose Segundo in December 2001 (killed on horseback while on his way to solemnize a marriage); and provincial board member James Bersamin — reportedly a distant relative of the slain Congressman — in November 2006 (gunned down while jogging in the Bangued plaza).

So what is it in the air in Abra that makes its politics so violent? Or is it in the water? Whatever it is, I’m sure Abra (and national) hero Gabriela Silang didn’t fight for our country’s freedom just so we’ll have this kind of political violence. She must be turning in her grave. Too bad.

Reactions of Abrenians to this latest political violence can be found here. Also, you can read an earlier blog entry on Rep. Bersamin here.

Our condolences to the Bersamins.

4 thoughts on “Bad News: Abra’s Violent Politics Claims Two More Lives”

  1. I would hate for the Philippines to turn into countries like Peru or Colombia where death squads are the norm. Killing someone b/c of their political beliefs will only keep the country in chaos. Such a shame. Good to see you back, btw.

  2. Wil,
    Thanks. What’s happening in Peru/ Colombia is happening here to some extent. At the national level, the ones being targeted for extermination are politicians/political leaders identified with the left, particularly the Bayan Muna party.

    However, the violence in Abra is more of a local affair and I don’t think its related to the killing of leftist political leaders. Its more of a fight between/among local politicians that turned violent and which now spiraled to more violence.

  3. I used to travel to Abra because of work. I have been to most of the municipalities there. Yes, it’s true that the political tension is thick you can cut it with a bolo. All local government units in the province hold office in their “embassies” in the capital town of Bangued. No chief executive is ever at their office in their respective locality. Their reason? Safety. Even with a company size of armed body guard they still feel threatened!

  4. Hi Alvin,
    Very interesting. This is the first time I heard of such “embassies”. Weird no? At the same time its sad because public service to the AbreƱos will surely be curtailed with all those Abra mayors being based in Bangued. Thanks.

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