Mayor, losing village bet eyed in ex-solon’s slay
AGOO, La Union — A La Union town mayor and another defeated candidate in the May 14 barangay elections may have been behind the gunslaying of former Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, an Inquirer source said here on Tuesday.
The mayor’s name was mentioned in the exchange of text messages between losing village candidate, Felizardo Villanueva, and another bet in another village before Eriguel was killed on May 12, according to the source who took part in one of the police case conferences on the murder. The source asked not to be named for security reasons.
Villanueva, 67, was arrested hours after at least nine armed men attacked a Sangguniang Kabataan meeting in Barangay Capas where Eriguel and his three supporters were killed. Seven others were wounded.
Villanueva is now facing murder charges. “It was Villanueva who texted [the other candidate] that Eriguel was already in his village at that time and asked him to send goons,” the source said.
In a news conference here on Tuesday, Eriguel’s widow, incumbent La Union Rep. Sandra Eriguel, complained about the slow pace of the investigation.
“I would like to thank the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) and the PNP (Philippine National Police) for helping. I just wish that the investigation be fast-tracked and [the case] resolved as soon as possible,” she said.
At the same conference, Senior Supt. Reynaldo Tamondong, Ilocos regional police investigation chief, said he had no details about the killing, noting the text messages taken from Villanueva’s mobile telephone were being analyzed by the police.
“We are exerting our best efforts to solve this case and we are [mobilizing] all our resources so we can identify the perpetrators and those who masterminded this assassination,” he said.
Tamondong also said investigators were urging Villanueva to become a state witness and name the mastermind.
Eriguel said the attack on her husband was politically motivated. She described Villanueva as “the lookout of the gunmen.”
According to her, her husband intended to run again for representative of the province’s second district in the 2019 elections. “But he had joked he might just run for mayor of Tubao [town],” she said.
In 2016, the Eriguel couple survived a bomb attack on their convoy near their house in Agoo.
Asked if the suspect in the 2016 attack could be the mastermind of her husband’s assassination, Eriguel said, “Anything is possible.”
“We feel that as long as the perpetrators, including the mastermind, are not identified and arrested, our lives will always be at risk,” she said.
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