Masbate wracked by another murder amid gun ban

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NAGA CITY—The series of what police said could be politically motivated killings continues in Masbate.

The latest victim was a village councilor who was gunned down on Tuesday, according to police.

Senior Superintendent Heriberto Olitoquit, Masbate police director, said in a phone interview that Ervin Niez, 45, was dead on the spot after a gunman shot him in the nape with a .45 caliber pistol past 5 p.m. in Barangay (village) Nabangig in Palanas town.

Niez, a councilor of Barangay Pawican in neighboring Cataingan town, was about to park his motorcycle beside his mother’s house when he was attacked.

Olitoquit said police were exploring two angles in the killing—politics and the victim’s involvement in intelligence gathering against communist guerrillas.

Palanas is about 56 kilometers south of Masbate City, provincial capital of Masbate.

Police said the gunman who killed Niez fled with two lookouts in a motorcycle.

Niez’s was the ninth killing in Masbate this month alone. It followed the killing of Mario Pasiliao, 44, in Masbate City on Thursday last week.

Earlier this March, a vice mayoral candidate in Mobo town and a councilor in Balud town were also felled by assassins’ bullets.

In Pio V. Corpuz town, four members of the Dublin family were hacked to death while a teacher was shot dead inside his classroom.

All suspects in the murders, except for the killing of Ladislao Macuja, Balud town coucilor, remained at large.

The crimes all occurred amid a gun ban that is in effect nationwide for the 2013 midterm elections in May.

On Saturday, Roger Chica, 41, and security guard Edison Perciana, 46, were arrested by Special Task Force Masbate (STF Masbate) for trying to sell and carrying unlicensed .45 cal. pistols.

On Monday, the Masbate police also arrested Arnel Almanzor, 28, the so-called second most wanted person in Cataingan town, on frustrated murder charges.

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