>> Sunday, August 30, 2009
By Dexter A. See and March Fianza
BANGUED, Abra — Religious leaders in this conflict-stricken province are willing to help facilitate the surrender of former Gov. Vicente Valera if he decides to face the charges filed against him in connection with the murder of Congressman Luis “Chito” Bersamin Jr. who was shot dead on Dec. 16, 2006.
Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian said the surrender feeler sent by the Valera camp to the Philippine National Police is an indication there is strong possibility unity in the province could be realized.
"Being an instrument of peace, this is my main mission - to help everyone attain reconciliation for both families and to stop the violence specially during elections," the Bishop said.
Jaucian said he is praying for the reconciliation of the two feuding Valera and Bersamin families, adding this would be the most precious gift for the people of Abra during the centennial celebration of the missionary Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in the province.
"I am very willing to assist and even accompany the former governor if he will ask for my help. Their family and that of the Bersamin's are close to me," Jaucien said.
But despite the surrender feeler sent by the former governor, Charry Bersamin, eldest daughter of the slain lawmaker, said her family is still offering P350,000 for anyone who could provide vital information that could lead to the arrest of the former provincial official and his close-in aide, former Army Sergeant Leo Bello.
Bersamin’s daughter said P250,000 is earmarked as reward for the arrest of Valera, while the remaining P100,000 is intended as price for the arrest of Bello.
"They have to respect the process. We feel that it is unfair on our part because despite his (Valera) statement that he had nothing to do with the killing of my father, he still remains in hiding." she said.
At present, the teams formed by the police leadership to track down Valera are conducting a hunt for the former governor who is tagged as the mastermind in the murder of Bersamin.
In the feelers sent to PNP chief Director-General Jesus A. Verzosa, Valera signified his intention to answer in the court the serious allegations against him.
Other sectors in the province are also working on the reconciliation of the two families in an effort to put an end to the anxiety of the people.
Abra is tagged as the “killing fields of the north” because of the wave of violence caused by the intense political rivalry which has claimed the lives of hundreds of politicians and their supporters in the past three decades.