CEBU CITY—A militiaman was killed while another was wounded on Saturday when armed men fired at them in front of the house of a mayoral candidate in Buenavista town, Bohol.
The police recovered from the house of Alfonso Del Rosario Jr. two firearms believed to have been used in the ambush of Ruel Torregosa and Auzardi Garcia, both members of the Civilian Active Auxiliary, at about 11:30 p.m.
Senior Inspector Ricardo Tero, Buenavista police chief, said they had invited for questioning 20 men who were inside Del Rosario’s house during the shooting.
He said the police wanted to subject the 20 to a paraffin test to determine if they had fired a gun recently but they refused.
Tero told the Inquirer in a phone interview that they suspected that some of these men could be involved in the shooting because the .45-cal. pistol and KG9 matched the slugs and empty shells recovered from the crime scene.
A police report showed that Torregosa and Garcia were with a group of soldiers, led by Capt. Allan Vildosola, who were heading to Barangay (village) Cangawa after conducting patrol in Barangay Baluerte.
Torregosa and Garcia, who were onboard separate motorcycles ahead of the soldiers, were ambushed in front of Del Rosario’s house in Barangay Cantuba, according to Bohol police director Senior Supt. Constantino Barot Jr. in his report to the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas based in Cebu City.
The report said Garcia suffered minor injuries while Torregosa, who was also hit, went missing. The police later found Torregosa’s body 35 meters from the barangay road at the mango plantation of Del Rosario located just across the house, the report said.
The group of Vildosola arrived in the ambush site 20 minutes after the shooting and was met with gunfire.
The report said an exchange of gunfire ensued between the soldiers and the armed men, who were positioned inside the compound of the Del Rosario residence.
Police arrived later but didn’t get close to avoid a misencounter, said the report.
A team from the Special Forces Battalion headed by Maj. Eddie Valde arrived in the area at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. He later learned that the father of Lt. Pedro Sentillas of the engineering brigade was inside the house.
The report, however, didn’t identify the father of Sentillas. But it said he was able to convince his companions inside the house to surrender to authorities and yield the firearms allegedly used in the ambush.
Bohol election supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said Buenavista is under the watch list of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) because of the intense political rivalry between Del Rosario of the Liberal Party (LP) and incumbent Mayor Ronald Tirol of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
He said they could not conclude yet if Saturday’s ambush was election-related but he admitted that there had been an incidence of violence in the past.
Area of immediate concern
In March, he said, three unidentified armed men shot and killed Percival Sebua, 48, and a candidate for councilor under Tirol’s slate while he was heading to his rice farm in Barangay Bonotbonot, Buenavista.
Castillano said they asked the Regional Joint Security Coordinating Center to place the entire province under an area of immediate concern.
Lt. Col. Julius Tomines, commander of the 2nd Special Forces Battalion, said they might deploy more troops in Buenavista to help police maintain the peace, especially during the May 13 polls.
Tomines said he had deployed a Simba Light Combat Vehicle and 30 soldiers to the area.
In Urdaneta City, a grenade was found at the main door of the house of Mayor Amadeo Gregorio Perez IV at 6:35 a.m. on Saturday but it did not explode, police said.
The grenade was set off manually by the police’s explosives unit at a river at 9 a.m., Supt. Paquito Navarette, Urdaneta police chief, said.
The pin and lever were set beside the grenade at the doorstep, suggesting that it was meant to terrorize the household, he said.
The LP expressed alarm over the discovery because Perez hosted President Aquino’s luncheon meeting with Pangasinan mayors and local officials in his house two days ago.
“We have no idea what the motives of the perpetrators are but we hope that this is not connected with the President’s call for the LP and NPC mayors to join him in his crusade for good government in Pangasinan,” said an LP statement.
Mr. Aquino toured Urdaneta City and Lingayen and Binmaley towns on May 2 to inaugurate government projects and campaign for Team PNoy senatorial and local candidates.
5 killed since 2012
Also on Saturday, a former village leader of San Simon town in Pampanga was shot and killed by two gunmen at around 11 a.m., bringing to five the number of village leaders slain in the province since 2012.
Marciano Intal, 66, was sitting at a waiting shed in Barangay De la Paz when two suspects on a motorcycle stopped in front of him and shot him.
Investigators found seven spent bullets and two more slugs. Intal died on the spot.
Intal served as barangay captain of the same village in the 1980s.
Chief Insp. Michael John Riego, San Simon police chief, said the murder of Intal could not be immediately established as election-related.
In Bulacan, police placed Donya Remedios Trinidad town under heightened red alert following the arrest of 11 suspected New People’s Army rebels on April 26.
At a Friday news conference, Elmo Duque, Bulacan provincial election supervisor, said government forces engaged the rebels again after the arrests, prompting the Comelec to raise the town’s alert status. With reports from Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon; and Tonette Orejas and Carmela Reyes-Estrope, Inquirer Central Luzon