UNITY FOR PEACE:

The Philippine Star - - FRONT PAGE - By EM­MANUEL TU­PAS

Na­tional and lo­cal can­di­dates, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies, re­lease doves dur­ing an in­ter­faith rally at the Que­zon Me­mo­rial Cir­cle yes­ter­day. The rally and peace covenant sign­ing marked the start of the midterm elec­tion pe­riod.

an es­ti­mated 6,000 peo­ple yes­ter­day joined an in­ter­faith rally and covenant sign­ing in Que­zon City for clean, peace­ful, or­derly and cred­i­ble midterm elec­tions in May.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion and op­po­si­tion can­di­dates at­tended the event to­gether with of­fi­cials from the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec), Depart­ment of the In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment, Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP) and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

The ac­tiv­ity started as early as 5 a.m. and ended at around 9 a.m., ac­cord­ing to the Que­zon City Po­lice District (QCPD).

The event was pre­ceded by a unity walk from var­i­ous parts of the city and ended at the Que­zon Me­mo­rial Cir­cle.

Five of the se­na­to­rial

can­di­dates of the op­po­si­tion were present. They were Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Mag­dalo party-list Rep. Gary Ale­jano, lawyers Jose Manuel Dio­kno and Lorenzo Tanada III and civic leader Samira Gu­toc.

For­mer pres­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ca­tions as­sis­tant sec­re­tary Mocha Uson, who is run­ning for a seat in Congress as rep­re­sen­ta­tive of AA-Ka­sosyo party-list, and for­mer po­lice senior su­per­in­ten­dent Ce­sar Man­cao, can­di­date of May Pag-asa party-list, were also in at­ten­dance.

The can­di­dates joined other rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tors in call­ing for peace­ful and hon­est elec­tions. “Ma­ha­laga at ma­g­a­nda na nagsamasama yung iba-ibang in­sti­tu­tion such as the PNP, AFP, Com­elec and the can­di­dates to push for peace­ful elec­tions,” Aquino told re­porters.

He ad­mit­ted they are fac­ing an up­hill bat­tle be­ing part of the op­po­si­tion. But he ex­pressed con­fi­dence they could still catch up in the com­ing months.

“Be­fore the start of the cam­paign, mabibi­gyan ng oras at swing ang mga kasama sa Otso Diretso,” Aquino said, re­fer­ring to the op­po­si­tion slate.

The other mem­bers of the se­na­to­rial slate are for­mer in­te­rior chief Manuel Roxas II, elec­tion lawyer Ro­mulo Ma­cal­in­tal and for­mer so­lic­i­tor gen­eral Florin Hil­bay.

The can­di­dates re­cited and signed an In­tegrity Pledge, the high­light of the ac­tiv­ity where they promised to abide by the coun­try’s laws, re­spect the sanc­tity of the elec­toral ex­er­cise and shun any form of vi­o­lence.

PNP chief Direc­tor Gen­eral Os­car Al­bay­alde, in a speech read by Direc­tor Rolando Felix of the Direc­torate for In­te­grated Po­lice Oper­a­tions for Visayas, called for the co­op­er­a­tion of all par­tic­i­pants to en­sure peace­ful elec­tions.

“I take this op­por­tu­nity to en­join ev­ery­one to help us sus­tain and strengthen our peace ef­forts dur­ing the en­tire elec­tion pe­riod. Ev­ery­one has a vi­tal role in this ef­fort,” Al­bay­alde said.

While there will al­ways be evil el­e­ments out to sow fear and vi­o­lence, the PNP chief said he is con­fi­dent a united coun­try will thwart any at­tempt to dis­rupt the polls.

“As long as we re­main vig­i­lant, these evil forces will not pros­per in per­pe­trat­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Po­lice Of­fice chief Direc­tor Guillermo Eleazar said there were no un­to­ward in­ci­dents in Metro Manila on the first day of the elec­tion pe­riod, ex­cept for a tri­cy­cle driver who was ar­rested at a check­point in Manila for al­leged shabu pos­ses­sion.

ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO

A po­lice­man pre­pares the ‘in­tegrity pledge’ dur­ing an in­ter­faith rally at the Que­zon City Me­mo­rial Cir­cle yes­ter­day.

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