BANGUED, Abra — The local political clans of the Someras in Pilar town, Abra crumbled and lost grip of their strongholds in the small town of more or less 10,000 inhabitants in the last election.
Incumbent mayor Maro Somera lost miserably to a virtually unknown opponent in the mayoralty race, garnering only 291 votes in the town’s 19 barangays.
His opponent, Tyron Beroña, garnered 6,210 votes as he put one over on the son of the late longtime town mayor and former governor Rolando Somero who was slain in Marikina sometime in 2017.
Mayor Somera’s sister— incumbent Vice Mayor Jaja Somera-Disono, whose bodyguards were earlier entangled in a checkpoint shooting incident, also lost to Beroñas teammate Samson Laguesma with only 708 votes while the latter got a whopping 5,573.
The Somera patriarch Rolando served as mayor of Pilar town in Abra for three consecutive terms and was once a board member. He ran for congressman in 2013 but lost to former congresswoman and now governor Ma. Joycelyn Bernos. He also ran for vice governor in 2016 but was unsuccessful in his bid.
The late patriarch’s son, Mark Rolando (Maro) and daughter Josefina Jaja joined politics in 2019 to virtually control the town, perhaps the biggest taker of shares of the Tobacco Excise Tax provided by RA 7171 in Abra. Only in 2017, Pilar got a whooping P594.4M from RA 7171, perhaps the number one among 10 LGUs getting tobacco excise tax shares among tobacco-producing towns in the country.
Earlier assessments of the Commission on Audit (COA) on the RA 7171 share spending of Pilar town saw various observations, prompting the residents to suspect irregularities on the utilization of the funds meant for tobacco farmers and agriculture development in the town.
The Someras’ loss last Monday turned out to be a referendum on how the town was run, with allegations of various crimes perpetrated by the clan.
Worse, the Cordillera police have reportedly lodged multiple criminal cases, including an alleged trafficking in persons after a dozen former military men they reportedly hired as a “private army” surrendered to the military in the aftermath of the checkpoint shooting incident and armed stand-off at their compound on March 29.