Another poll-related killing in MasbateBy Jonas Cabiles Soltes
Inquirer Southern Luzon
NAGA CITY—A municipal councilor in Masbate was shot and killed on Sunday in what police believed was related to the gun-slaying of a vice mayoral candidate from another town the day before.
The victim, Ladislao Macuha, a last-term councilor of Balud town, was not seeking an elective post but remained active in local politics as his son, Gilord, is running for a seat in the municipal council under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Macuha, 66, was shot twice in the back by a man aided by a lookout at around 3 p.m. at a cockpit in Sitio Tambobo of the town, said Senior Supt. Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate police director.
A stray bullet hit a bystander, identified as Florido Villalobos, who was brought to Masbate Provincial Hospital and is now in stable condition, Olitoquit said.
The police official said the killing of Macuha could be related to the death of Isagani Lupango, a vice mayoral candidate of Mobo town, who was gunned down on Saturday and died early Sunday. A “thorough investigation” was, however, needed to confirm the connection, he said.
Macuha’s son is running for councilor with reelectionist Mayor Ruel Benisano, a known ally of Rep. Antonio Kho of the second district, but the councilor was supporting reelectionist Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) instead of Kho.
Kho, who belongs to the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party, is up against Lanete and Leo Casas, a former priest and Liberal Party standard-bearer, in the gubernatorial race.
The alliance of Macuha with Lanete, however, was disputed by Benisano who, in a phone interview on Monday, claimed that the councilor was his “strong” supporter. Lanete, on the other hand, said in a separate phone interview that she was close with Macuha.
Mayor Socrates Tuason of Masbate City, who is loosely allied with Kho, insisted that Macuha was allied with Kho.
The Inquirer could not reach Kho for comment.
Macuha was the fourth party member of NPC in the province to be slain in four months. Two NPC candidates—Edwin Amaro and Vicente Aragona—were killed in December last year, but so far, only the murder of Amaro was proven by the police to be politically-motivated.
Lupango, 41, a barangay chair aspiring to become vice mayor on Mobo, was shot and killed on Saturday at a cockpit in the town’s Barangay Tugbo. He was a candidate of the NPC, locally headed by Lanete.
Olitoquit said the four fatalities were all allied with Lanete and came from the second district.
“The murders may be interconnected, but we are still gathering evidence. We have suspects who are connected with armed groups linked to politicians,” he said.