DAGUPAN CITY—The murder of a Pangasinan mayor on Saturday has validated the government’s decision to include the province among areas of concern in the 2013 elections, Liberal Party (LP) leaders here said in a statement.
Infanta Mayor Ruperto Martinez was shot and killed by two men in front of his house on Saturday afternoon.
In a statement signed by Oscar Lambino, LP spokesperson in Pangasinan, said Martinez’s murder and earlier political killings in the province “not only caused great alarm, but also struck a big blow to the collective aspirations of the LP and our constituents to transform Pangasinan into a community that is free of violence and fear.”
“These political killings firm up our stand to support the inclusion of Pangasinan in the list of areas of concern in the coming elections, which was prepared by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). The DILG decision is a bold and proactive step to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident,” the statement said.
Martinez was shot dead hours after residents mounted a rally to protest the construction of another mining port in the town.
Senior Inspector Michael Bautista, Infanta police chief, said he could not yet provide information about the investigation. An Infanta resident who joined the rally said about 500 residents of Cato village protested the establishment of mining ports near their community, where nickel mined in nearby Sta. Cruz town in Zambales are stockpiled for shipping.
A company had built a mining port in the village and had applied for permits for a second port which would rise near a school.
The Inquirer source, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Martinez had issued a permit for the rally.
“At first, the mayor told the protesters to [reconsider] their scheduled protest action because the [port] project could be canceled anyway. But the leaders told him that the rally was already arranged and had it not pushed through, the residents would have believed [that town officials] were paid to stop the rally,” the source said.
Gov. Amado Espino Jr. urged the police to fast-track the investigation. “I was very sad and very angry. [Martinez] was my
No. 1 supporter in that district for many years now,” he said.
Pangasinan Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil, a former provincial police director, said Martinez was his partner in peacekeeping efforts, particularly in Infanta, which is in the boundary of Pangasinan and Zambales. Yolanda Sotelo, with a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon