Philippine Mayor Wounded, 3 Guards Killed in Ambush

Karl Romano
190123-PH-mayor-killed-1000.jpg Police inspect the scene of a drive-by shooting in Bangar town that killed three people in an SUV, including Alexander “Alan” Buquing, the mayor of Sudipen town in La Union province, northern Philippines, Oct. 1, 2018.
Karl Romano/BenarNews

Gunmen wounded a mayor and killed three of her bodyguards in a drive-by shooting in the central Philippines, police said Wednesday, in the latest outbreak of violence ahead of May elections.

Lakambini Reluya, the mayor of San Fernando town in the central Cebu province, and two companions were hurt but proclaimed out danger after assassins attacked the vehicle they were traveling on Tuesday night, killing three members of her security detail, said Superintendent Marlu Canag, the local police commander.

“Three unidentified men aboard a white sedan fired at them from the left side of the vehicle. We are investigating the motive behind the ambush,” the police official said.

The attack on Reluya came shortly after two of the mayor’s political allies, local councilman Reneboy Decalos and village head Johnny Arriesgado, were shot dead in separate attacks under similar circumstances on Jan. 10 and 19, respectively. Reluya is seeking re-election in May.

In Manila, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo denounced the latest attack against a government official as he promised that the administration would apply the “full force” of the law to catch the killers of the mayor’s bodyguards.

“We deplore the ambush of Reluya and pray for her speedy recovery. This unfortunate and standard norm cannot continue, and the culture of violence that has characterized the electoral process will have to end,” Panelo said.

He asked the public to be vigilant, saying people should be on guard and alert law enforcement authorities of any election-related violence brewing between and among the candidates and supporters in their respective localities.

“Violence is anathema to democracy, and this administration will not allow nor tolerate any violence unleashed by any person or group that puts the voters and the general public at risk. The President is committed to shepherd peaceful, honest and orderly elections,” Panelo said.

Last month, Congressman Rodel Batocabe and a police bodyguard were both killed in an attack while attending a gift giving-ceremony for elderly people in eastern Albay province.

Batocabe, 52, became the highest-ranking public official slain so far in a rash of killings in the lead up to the May vote, when Filipinos are to elect 12 senators, the entire 297-member House of Representatives and thousands of other local officials.

The primary suspect in Batocabe’s killing, Carlwyn Baldo, who is a rival town mayor, has been captured over illegal possession of firearms. Five other alleged accomplices have also been arrested.

Nonoy Espina contributed to this report from Bacolod City, Philippines.


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