PNP files charges vs. 2 Abra town officials, 3 others over standoff

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 7) – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it has filed charges against five individuals, including the mayor and vice mayor of Pilar town in Abra, following a standoff between cops and the vice mayor’s security aides last week.

PNP in a statement said Pilar Mayor Maro Somera and Vice Mayor Jaja Josefina Disono are facing charges for violation of the Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act.

CNN Philippines is seeking a clear explanation as to why the PNP filed such charges against the town officials.

Meanwhile, police also lodged charges against two local government employees, identified as Robert Boreta Toreno and Emmanuel Nicanor Valera, as well as the vice mayor’s house help Jericho Toreno Bufil for “serious disobedience to an agent of a person in authority.”

Bufil also was charged with attempted murder, according to PNP.

“The cases filed are the product of the evidence and testimonies that our police investigators were able to gather. Those involved individuals will be made to submit themselves to the judicial proceeding,” PNP Chief General Dionardo Carlos said.

On March 29, the regional police reported a standoff taking place at Disono’s residence where her armed security personnel were said to have taken refuge "after running through a police checkpoint, injuring two policemen and shooting at a police patrol car that gave chase.”

The standoff ceased the following day after a series of negotiations. Police said 12 of Disono’s men – who all served in the military – surrendered, while 14 licensed firearms from the vice mayor’s camp were turned over to the authorities for forensic examination.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said his department is studying the possibility of asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify Disono and Somera, both reelectionists, in the upcoming polls.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said while the poll body believes “there is a basis” for the PNP findings, it would first have “to cross-check with [its] people on the ground” regarding the incident to decide on the appropriate response.