CATARMAN, Northern Samar—A suspended mayor and his son were shot and wounded outside their house on Thursday in Victoria town, about 50 kilometers west of this capital town.
Suspended Mayor Jose Ardales, 54, suffered a gunshot wound in the neck. His son, Jorge, 23, is in critical condition.
Chief Insp. Edwin Canamaque, Victoria police chief, said police are looking into politics as a possible motive behind Northern Samar’s first case of election-related violence this election season.
A former militiaman and an alleged bodyguard of Ardales’ rival have been held for questioning after witnesses tagged them as the gunmen.
Ardales is running for mayor under the National Unification Party against the Liberal Party’s Guillermo Jumamil.
He is serving a six-month suspension after the provincial board found him guilty of administrative charges of malversation of public funds, dishonesty, gross negligence of duty, grave misconduct and other cases.
Canamague admitted that tension is high in the town of more than 20,000 people and 16 villages because of the shooting.
“We asked the people to remain calm,” said Canamague.
Lawyer Veronico Petalcorin, Commission on Elections director in Eastern Visayas, said Victoria was placed on the list of areas of “immediate concern” to pave the way for more police and soldiers to be deployed to the town.
“We don’t want the situation to escalate further,” Petalcorin said.
Canamague said that based on the initial investigation, Ardales and his family were having dinner at home in Barangay Zone 1 at around 8 p.m. when shots were fired at their house.
Ardales and Jorge went out to check and were shot, he added.
More than 20 bullet casings from M-16 rifles and .45-cal pistols were recovered by forensic examiners at the crime scene.
Canamague said two suspects are involved in the shooting.
On Friday, a former member of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit and a bodyguard of Jumamil were held for questioning after some witnesses claimed that they were the ones who shot the victims.