Tarlac mayoral bet shot dead in community meeting

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SAN JOSE, Tarlac—A mayoral candidate was gunned down by two men while waiting for his turn to speak in a community meeting in the remote upland village of Iba here on Monday, police said.

Senior Insp. Sonny Silva, town police chief, said Rudy Abella, 65, the incumbent village chief of Burgos and a former policeman, died before reaching the Central Luzon Doctors Hospital in Tarlac City, some 30 kilometers from here.

Abella, a candidate of Lakas-CMD and who had served as barangay captain for 11 years, was challenging the reelection bid of Mayor Jose Yap Jr., brother of Tarlac Gov. Victor Yap.

Police said Abella and his vice mayoral candidate, Judy Laurzano, also the village chief of Iba, were in a caucus at 5 p.m. when two men, with .45 cal. and 9mm pistols, approached and shot him at close range. Three other men served as lookout.

2 angles

The suspects, police said, fled on two motorcycles. Abella was hit in the the chest and abdomen while a bystander, Maritess Pineda, was hit in her right thigh by a stray bullet.

Silva said investigators are looking at two possible angles in Abella’s slaying.

First, he said, was in relation to Abella’s work as a former policeman in the town, where the influence of commmunist rebels is strong. He said Abella had been at odds with one “Ka Lope.”

Another possible motive was politics. “As it is election time and the victim was a candidate, that the incident was election-related could not be discounted,” Silva said.

Abella’s daughter, Lalaine, believed the murder of her father was related to politics.

“My father was a strong candidate, as people liked him,” she said.

Three weeks ago, Lalaine said she overheard her father talking over the phone asking the other person on the line, “Bakit gusto akong patayin (Why would somebody want me killed)?”

Lalaine said her father had received death threats but he chose not to discuss it with family members so they would not worry.

“My father was a good man and the people loved him. We did not want him to run in this election but he insisted,” she said.

Lalaine said she has no option now but to continue her father’s candidacy. Lakas named her as replacement candidate to challenge Yap.

Originally posted: 2:24 pm | Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

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