DARAGA, Albay --- As the campaign period for local officials started to rev up, all eyes are glued on this quaint town which the Commission of Elections has placed under its control following the killing of former lawmaker and erstwhile mayoral candidate Rodel Batocabe last December 22, 2018 here.
Contesting the highest municipal executive post are incumbent and murder suspect Mayor Carlwyn Go. Baldo, incumbent Vice-Mayor Victor Perete (PDP-Laban), and Gertie Duran-Batocabe (NUP), the widow of the slain mayoral challenger.
Baldo and Perete both attended the 6:00 a.m. mass in Daraga church and went directly to the Daraga public market after the mass.
Baldo’s and Perete’s teams even almost walked together as they conducted store-to-store and house-to-house campaigning.
Baldo had no police escort and is considered the underdog that is still gaining public support because many Daragueños believe that he is innocent about Batocabe’s murder.
Gertie Batocabe, on the other hand, went to the tomb of her slain husband Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe at Daraga public cemetery at about 5:30 a.m. before attending the mass in Barangay Alobo, in this town.
After the mass, Batocabe’s team staged the grandest motorcade from the junction of the proposed Bicol International Airport in Barangay Alobo with volunteers riding in motorcycles.
Two days ago, the three camps joined together in solidarity with a walk and peace covenant inside the Daraga church initiated by the Philippine National Police in Daraga town, in partnership with Philippine Army and Commission on Elections.
The three candidates pledged to be part of an honest, orderly, and peaceful election.
The camps of Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete were seen in cordial gestures with each other even as they exchanged pleasantries and laughter. Batocabe’s camp, on the other hand, was observed to be quiet and reserved.
Lawyer Jasmin Banzuela-Belarmino, Comelec chief in Daraga lauded the “unity walk” initiated by Daraga PNP led by Supt. Rodelon Betita.
“Our gratitude likewise goes to Fr. Eulogio Lawenko, Jr. and the PPCRV and to the Armed Forces of the Philippines for this laudable stakeholder collaboration,” Belarmino said.
She told the candidates present in the event that in conducting these activities, they are assuring the people of Daraga that they will abide by all election laws, rules, and regulations.
“At the end of the election, I urge everyone to abide by the decision of the majority and be humble in triumph and defeat. At the end of the day, you are all citizens of Daraga, Albay who want nothing but the best for this community. Again, thank you for our commitment towards honest, orderly, peaceful, and credible elections,” she said.