Village chief, cousin shot dead in Masbate

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NAGA CITY, Philippines—A barangay (village) chairman and his cousin were shot dead by three unidentified assailants early Wednesday morning in Cataingan town in Masbate, police said.

Village chief Ireneo Booc, 43, and his relative Marlon Etcobañes, 20, had just come home from a game of mahjong with friends when the gunmen, who were waiting for them along the street in Sitio Tagican, Barangay Poblacion, shot them at 4:30 a.m.

Booc and Ecobañes were declared dead on arrival at a local hospital, said Senior Inspector Josefino Titong, Jr., Cataingan chief-of-police. Probers said the victims suffered several gunshot wounds in the body.

A .45-caliber gun was used in the murder, said Titong, who added that the gunmen fled onboard a motorcycle to a mountainous area of the barangay.

Investigation showed Booc had been receiving death threats prior to the murder and had been charged with illegal possession of firearms in a case still pending in the court.

Titong said the crime might not have been politically motivated because Booc was already on his last term as barangay chairman of Poblacion.

Investigators have been trying to find out whether Etcobañes was also a target or was a collateral damage in the crime.

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