Son of Mayoral Candidate, Employee Killed in Possible Poll-related Violence in Philippines

Froilan Gallardo
Cagayan De Oro, Philippines
2021-11-11
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Son of Mayoral Candidate, Employee Killed in Possible Poll-related Violence in Philippines Filipino gunsmiths, for whom elections mean big business, work in an illegal makeshift gun factory on the outskirts of Danao, a city in the central Philippines, July 8, 2012.
Reuters

A gunman shot dead a mayoral candidate’s son and a worker at a quarry owned by the politician’s family in the southern Philippines, police said Thursday, in what could be the first election-related killings ahead of nationwide polls next year.

The shootings of Roland Sherwin Uy, 45, and his employee, Samuel Tabalan, 75, in Cagayan de Oro City are the first known case of killings possibly tied to the May 2022 elections, police said, although investigators have not yet established a motive. Gun violence and politics-related killings are common during electoral seasons in the Southeast Asian country.

“We are not discounting that this is the first election-related violence in the city,” said Major Evans Viñas, the spokesman for local police. He said they were also looking at other angles, including a business rivalry.

Sherwin Uy is the son of Roland Uy, a Congressmen who is leaving the Philippine legislature and running for mayor of Cagayan de Oro City. Despite being accused by his opponents of having ties with drug traffickers, Roland Uy so far is the frontrunner in the 2022 race.

Viñas said Uy died on the spot after being shot in an eye on Thursday afternoon as sat on a chair at his family-owned quarry business in the city. The gunman then turned to Tabalan, an assistant at the sand and gravel quarry, and shot him in the head, the police spokesman said.

The suspect fled aboard a motorcycle driven by an accomplice, police said, citing witness accounts.

Sherwin Uy’s driver, identified as Rubue Alayuay, said he was hiding inside a room at the time. He told reporters that he heard shots after the victim spoke to the gunman. He told the police he heard a motorcycle speed off afterwards.

Viñas said police were also investigating if the killings were connected to a rivalry among quarry operations in the village of Pagatpat, the primary source of sand and gravel in the city.

He said that when the gunman approached the victim, he asked for the price of sand and gravel, and began shooting after the victim answered with the price.

Apart from being a businessman, Sherwin Uy was also a local village councilor. Political rivals have accused both father and son of being drug users, with the father allegedly known to be “a narco-politician.”

The father has repeatedly denied the accusation. He has even shown pictures of himself with President Rodrigo Duterte, who has launched a war on drug traffickers and so-called narco-politicians, taken on several occasions.

Next May, the Philippines will hold elections to choose a successor for President Duterte, to fill 12 of the 24 seats in the Senate, all 316 House seats and thousands of official posts ranging from provincial governors to town mayors and councilors. 

Elections in the Philippines, especially in the countryside, are traditionally marred by violence. In 2019, 23 people were killed and 50 injured during mid-term polls and as many as 50 people died in poll-related violence during the 2016 presidential election, according to statistics from the national police.

Police had earlier said they were looking at dismantling 150 known “private armed groups” nationwide known to be controlled by politicians.  

Richel V. Umel contributed to this report from Iligan City, Philippines.

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