Gunman at-large after killing a former vice mayor in the Philippines

Jojo Riñoza and Jeoffrey Maitem
2022.08.12
Manila and Davao, Philippines
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Gunman at-large after killing a former vice mayor in the Philippines A police investigator marks a bullet casing found in front of the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines, where at least three people, including a former town mayor, were killed in an attack by a gunman, July 24, 2022.
AP Photo/Aaron Favila

Authorities were still searching for an unidentified gunman who fatally shot the former deputy mayor of a town located south of the capital Manila, Philippine police said Friday, in the latest killing of a politician in the Southeast Asian nation. 

The victim, Romeo Sulit, 61, who had served as deputy mayor of Lobo, a town in Batangas province, was gunned down while attending a birthday party in Lobo on Thursday night, officials said.

He was the second Filipino politician to be assassinated within three weeks, but police said they had yet to determine a motive. In the Philippines, where local officials are known to have their own “private armies,” revenge attacks are common.

Sulit was the guest of honor at the birthday celebration for a friend’s daughter when a gunman shot the victim in the head, police investigator Billionaire Jan Calleja said.

“The suspect fled on foot towards the north direction. The victim was brought to [a] Lobo District Hospital for medical treatment. [A] dragnet operation was requested,” Calleja said.

Sulit, who was still active in local politics, died at the Batangas Medical Center in Batangas City early on Friday morning, officials said.

“[His death] is a big loss to the policy-making body in our town,” the local government unit of Lobo said in a statement.

“We mourn his death and we express our deep condolences to the family,” they added.

The University of Batangas, where Sulit had served in the past as commander of its Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, urged authorities to arrest the suspect and swiftly finish the investigation.

“We are saddened by the incident. We vehemently and angrily condemn the alleged brutal killing,” they said in a statement.

In late July, a former mayor of Lamitan town on southern Basilan island, Rosita Furigay, was shot dead along with two others at Ateneo de Manila University in Metro Manila, while she was attending her daughter’s graduation ceremony from law school.

Chao Tiao Yumol, the suspect who was caught and who confessed to the killing, was a doctor who had a long-running feud with Furigay, authorities said.

Yumol’s father was subsequently shot and killed in Basilan, in what police suspected could be a case of “rido” – a revenge killing or blood feud that remains prevalent in a country where politicians are known to hire their own private armies and illegal guns can easily be acquired on the black market.

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