Politics seen behind Cebu town mayor’s ambush
Updated @ 12:43 a.m., Jan. 24, 2019
CEBU CITY — Mayor Lakambini Reluya of San Fernando, Cebu province, has divulged to the police names of several people who she believed to be behind the ambush that killed her husband and two others on Tuesday night.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, Central Visayas regional police director, said Reluya, who survived the attack in Talisay City, believed that the ambush was carried out by one of her political rivals.
Sinas, however, did not identify the suspects.
The van carrying Reluya, her husband Ricardo and four others was on its way to Cebu City when armed men attacked them at Barangay Linao in Talisay City, at 6 p.m. on Tuesday.
The mayor’s group came from a meeting in San Fernando and stopped in Linao to drop off Ricky Monterona, one of the Reluyas’ security aides.
Reluya and two other passengers survived but Ricardo, the president of the Association of Barangay Councils federation in San Fernando; Monterona; and Allan Bayot, the family’s driver, died in the attack.
“The mayor says her belief is that this is really politically motivated, so that’s what we’re looking at,” Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said in an interview with reporters in Manila on Wednesday.
“She really can’t think of anything else,” he said.
Albayalde, however, clarified that this was just one angle they were investigating, as “so far, we still don’t have a lead or even persons of interest.”
“While it is premature to make early conclusions at this point, our actions will be guided by available facts and evidence at hand, and others that may be obtained later in the course of the investigation,” the PNP chief said in a separate statement.
One of Reluya’s aides said the gunmen, who were wearing bulletproof vests, used a Toyota Innova.
Third exec slain
Ricardo Reluya was the third elected official of San Fernando who was killed this month.
On Jan. 10, San Fernando Councilor Rene Boy Dacalos was shot and killed inside his store at Barangay South Poblacion. The gunmen escaped on a motorcycle.
Six days later, Johnny Arriesgado, village chief of Magsico, died in a gun attack in his village.
Sinas said he sent policemen to secure Mayor Reluya and the survivors in a local hospital. “We will be securing the mayor, including the two other survivors, until the case is solved,” he said.
PNP chief order
Albayalde gave Cebu police officials two weeks to solve case.
“We will do our best. That’s the directive. The pressure is there but we will definitely follow that directive,” Sinas said.
In Manila, Malacañang denounced the ambush and vowed to apply the “full force” of the law on candidates using “illegal” means to win the elections.
“We urge even as we warn the candidates to cease and desist employment of undemocratic and illegal methods to win, for the law on accountability shall be applied with full force and effect,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
In a statement, Panelo said political rivalry during election period was “fever pitch,” resulting in the “upsurge of election-related violence.”
“This unfortunate and standard norm cannot continue and the culture of violence that has characterized the electoral process will have to end,” he said.
Panelo said the police had been directed to monitor areas already considered to be election hot spots. They were also asked to enforce the law strictly “regardless of who are involved.”
“Violence is anathema to democracy and this administration will not allow nor tolerate any violence unleashed by any person or group that puts the voters and the general public at risk,” he said. —With reports from Christine O. Avendaño and Jaymee T. Gamil
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