Killing increases tension as Zambales polls proceedBy Robert Gonzaga
Inquirer Central Luzon
IBA, Zambales—A bodyguard of former Zambales Gov. Amor Deloso was shot and killed in what police said was a clash with a group of policemen manning a checkpoint in Botolan town on the eve of the special congressional election in the province’s second district on Friday.
Cezar Madoh, a native of Jolo, died in a hospital after he and his men fought with a team of police officers, who were deployed to Botolan town to check on the presence of armed men there, said Senior Supt. Francisco Santiago, Zambales police director.
Deloso’s daughter, former Vice Gov. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla, ran as the administration candidate for the seat vacated by the death of Rep. Antonio Diaz in August last year.
The other candidates were Jun Omar Ebdane (Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka), Rica Victoria Diaz-Arambulo (Nacionalista Party), Board Member Wilfredo Pangan (Independent) and Alfred Mendoza (Independent).
Deloso claimed that Madoh and his men were in the area to disperse people orchestrating vote-buying operations that would benefit his daughter’s chief rival, Jun Omar Ebdane, son of Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr.
Sought for comment, Governor Ebdane said: “Of course they’ll say that I was the former PNP (Philippine National Police) chief. Whatever I do, they will always say the PNP is biased towards me.”
He said his son, Jun Omar, was leading the preelection surveys and that could be the reason he was targeted in the black propaganda.
Deloso said he was outraged when Madoh’s companions were detained to face assault charges. His daughter, Montalla, claimed that Madoh’s group was “unarmed and ambushed by the police.”
On Saturday, however, Zambales Assistant Prosecutor Cristobal Balangcod released Madoh’s companions on bail after charging them instead with a lower offense for disobedience to a person in authority.
Lawyer Elaiza Sabile-David, Zambales election supervisor, said the incident could not be classified as election-related because Madoh was also the subject of a warrant of arrest for a criminal charge.
Despite the incident in Botolan, election precincts opened at 7 a.m. on Saturday in 10 towns comprising the second district, and closed promptly at 3 p.m., she said.
A winner has yet to be proclaimed as of 5 p.m. yesterday.
Santiago also refused to qualify the shootout as election violence until, he said, the police had completed their investigation.
Police said Madoh was riding in a vehicle with a group of men when a police mobile team encountered them at 7:15 p.m. Friday at an election checkpoint on the Zambales-Tarlac Road at Barangay Santiago in Botolan.
The police team had responded to a report that Barangay Captain Aris George Lingat of Mambog village in Botolan was allegedly being harassed by men in a blue Toyota Altis and a red Mitsubishi Adventure. Lingat is the local president of the Association of Barangay Councils.
Investigators said Madoh’s group opened fire, hitting the windshield of the Adventure bearing the police officers. The lawmen retaliated, triggering the shootout.
Members of Madoh’s group claimed they were unarmed and were beaten up by the policemen. They refused to explain what had provoked the shootout.