DAGUPAN CITY ? Tension gripped San Manuel town in Pangasinan after a supporter of a mayoral candidate was shot and killed while leaving a wedding reception there on Sunday.
Romero Gorospe, 40, of Barangay (village) Narra, boarded his van with his wife when a man approached and shot him in the head, killing him instantly, police said. His wife was unhurt.
After Gorospe, who was driving, was shot, the vehicle backed up, hitting and killing a woman, identified as Ruth Palip.
?It?s like an electric [charge] swept through the town. Many residents refused to go out of their houses,? Precillano Bermudez, a resident, said.
Retired Vice Adm. Virgilio Marcelo, a mayoral candidate in San Manuel, said Gorospe was his supporter.
Marcelo said the victim earlier told him of a death threat, citing a supposed hit list that included his name.
?Unfortunately, I never had the chance to verify the list and where the list came from,? Marcelo said in a phone interview on Monday.
Mayor Salvador Perez, who is now running for vice mayor, denied there was tension in the town.
As to insinuations that he could be behind the killing, Perez said: ?What profit will I gain if I kill him? He is not even a big political leader [of Marcelo].?
Perez?s son, Vice Mayor Alain Jerico Perez, is running for mayor against Marcelo.
The elder Perez said he received reports that Gorospe was involved in the alleged misuse of funds of a tricycle drivers? association and in a land dispute.
?It was coincidental that it is election time so the crime was given political color, he said.
San Manuel is among the eastern Pangasinan towns where Army soldiers were sent in the run-up to the May 10 elections.
Military and Commission on Elections officials said the deployment was meant to guard against communist rebels and prevent election-related violent incidents. Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon