Another man on Duterte narcolist gunned down
LIBUNGAN, Cotabato, Philippines – It was not the first time that unidentified gunmen made an attempt on his life.
Barely two years ago, on January 7, 2019, Libungan Mayor Christopher “Amping” Cuan was inside town hall here around 1:45 p.m. when an unidentified gunman opened fire and missed, according to the police’ account of the incident.
But on Monday, the 46-year-old mayor was not as lucky. He was inspecting a cockfighting arena still under construction near his home in Barangay Cabaruyan when another attacker shot him and his driver Edwin Navarro Ihao, 36. Both died on the spot.
In 2016, Cuan was included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of “narco politicians.” He vehemently denied the charge and sought the then (Philippine National Police) PNP Director Gen. Ronaldo Dela Rosa in Camp Crame to clear his name.
Shortly after the 2019 attempt for his life, he told reporters his name was already stricken off the President’s drug list.
Police said that the mayor, who was still in cargo pants and shirt when he inspected the site, just arrived from Davao City at 1 a.m. on Monday.
Police Col. Henry Villar, Cotabato police director, said Cuan once confided to him about threats to his life but did not say whether the police had provided the mayor with added security.
Cuan, who was on his second term of office, was a former agri-businessman and owner of gas stations. He used to serve as town councilor for three term, before he ran for mayor in 2016 and won.
On Oct. 29, 2016, shortly after President Duterte assumed office, authorities raided his house but no drug was found in his two residential compounds in Barangay Cabaruyan and Barangay Poblacion in Libungan town.
The police, however, found unlicensed Bushmasher rifle, a 12 gauge shot gun and a cal. 45 pistol, which led to his arrest. He was released after posting bail.
Despite the unfounded claims of his alleged involvement in illegal drugs, the mayor was among other officials who were stripped of their power to oversee police in 2017 because of alleged drug issues.
Cuan followed the long list of mayors and politicians in the President’s drug watchlist who were later killed by unidentified gunmen. On July 10 last year, Mayor Pablo Matinong of Sto Niño town of South Cotabato was also killed. Matinong, who was also on the President’s list, repeatedly denied he was involved in the illegal drug trade.
“I condemn in the strongest term the killing of Mayor Amping Cuan of Libungan. His demise not only orphaned his family but also his constituents who looked up to him for leadership,” said Vice Gov. Emmylou Talino Mendoza in a statement.
“I have ordered the police to conduct thorough investigation on this violent incident in order to achieve full justice for Mayor Cuan and the other victim of this heinous crime,” Cotabato Gov. Nancy Catamco said in a separate statement.
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