CATBALOGAN CITY- The warring camps of Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan and Calbayog City Mayor Ronald P. Aquino is deemed to have reached a truce when they met at the Army-brokered peace talks in Catbalogan City in September 19, 2015.
The talks gave rise to expectations that the coming electoral campaigns as well as the May 9, 2016 polls will be free of serious disturbances.

Both Governor Tan and Mayor Aquino reportedly expressed willingness to cooperate with the military and the police in ensuring that the electoral activities in the province will not breed violent incidents.
Tension between the rival camps increased anew after the killing of city hall watchman Sonny Regulacion and four other members of his family in Brgy. Victory in Calbayog City in September 15, 2015 which Mayor Aquino feels is politically-motivated.
That incident prompted the command of the 8 Infantry Division of the Philippine Army in Catbalogan to arrange a dialogue between the Samar Governor and the Calbayog City Mayor being the protagonist in the struggle for political power in the province.
The talks which was held at the army headquarters in Catbalogan City was also attended by officials of the provincial headquarters of the Philippine National Police, the Municipal Mayors of Gandara, San Jorge, Sta. Margarita and Matuguinao - places where election related violent incidents were also reported in the recent past. Some of the Samar Provincial Board Members and Calbayog City Vice Mayor Diego Rivera were also present during the talks.
Governor Tan reportedly vowed not to resort to violence just to win in the elections- a promise appreciated by Matuguinao Mayor Melisa dela Cruz whose father and some relatives were allegedly assassinated by armed groups.
The Governor also announced during the talks that the provincial government is putting up reward money amounting to Php 100,000 for anyone who could lead the police to the perpetrators of the recent and past killings.

The move is apparently intended to dispel doubts about the governor's sincerity in supporting police efforts to bring to justice the people responsible for the crime as well as the suspicion that her family has a clandestine link with one of several private armed groups operating in the province.

The existence and freedom of movement of armed men in Samar is being attributed by observers of the political affairs in the province to the alleged support of unscrupulous politicians.
This observation is shared by a retiring military officer from Samar- Lt. Col. Emilio Zosa. He said that private armed groups are able to get by because of the support of people engaged in politics.

Zosa who is a member of the Liberal Party is reportedly aiming for the capitol which is currently occupied by the Tan siblings. He is retiring from military service within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile the military is again preparing to gather political aspirants in Calbayog City on October 1, 2015 for the formal signing of a peace agreement to ensure a free and peaceful elections next year.

(The Calbayog Journal, September 29, 2015 - Photos are from the facebook pages of Dpao Stormtroopers & LGU Calbayog Bulletin)

-, September 28, 2015

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