Murder raps readied vs ‘goons’ of rival camps in Ilocos Sur shooting
VIGAN CITY — Murder and frustrated murder charges were being readied against supporters of two opposing mayoral candidates in the town of Magsingal in Ilocos Sur province after four died and four others were wounded in an election-related shooting incident in the municipality on Saturday morning, police said on Sunday.
Police said to face murder and frustrated murder complaints were four suspects identified as supporters of mayoral aspirant Alrico Favis (Kilusang Bagong Lipunan), the husband of the town’s outgoing Mayor Victoria Ina Favis. They were Guillermo and Agustin, both surnamed Unciano; Dante Tolentino; Archie Garcia; Menelio Oliver Jr.; and Albert Bañez.
Complaints of frustrated murder were also being readied against Teofilo Taasin and Kenneth Salvador, both supporters of independent candidate Lorry Salvador Jr., Alrico’s opponent for the mayoral seat.
Police Col. Wilson Doromal, the provincial police director, at a press briefing on Sunday, said they would definitely file the criminal complaints against the suspects even as he assured the police would be “fair and square in filing cases.”Police investigators said the four individuals who died during the incident were all alleged supporters of Salvador. They were Recto Bacdayan Bagani, 65; Jovito Ramos Tumaneng, 61, a retired member of the Philippine Army; Lerry Pol Harmon Torda, 41; and William Sican Bulil-lit, 61, a former member of Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit.
READ: 4 killed, 1 hurt in gunfight among supporters of rival Ilocos Sur mayoral bets
Police who responded to the incident arrived at the crime scene with the four individuals dead with gunshot wounds.
Also wounded were Taasin, 39, and Kenneth, 40, both also supporters of Salvador; Bañez, 39, a driver of candidate Favis; and Romnick Villanueva, 25, also with the Favis camp.
Police also arrested from the group of Favis supporters two persons, named Minelio Oliver, 38, who was found in possession of a .45-caliber pistol; and Eddie Unzo, 37, a village watchman of Barangay Patong in Magsingal. The two were arrested after they allegedly attempted to flee on board a vehicle.
Earlier police reports said the incident stemmed from an alleged vote-buying activity that went out of control.
Investigators said that a group of persons belonging to Salvador’s camp went to the village of Labut in the town to verify alleged vote-buying activity in the area on Saturday and figured in a gunfight with the individuals backing mayoral candidate Favis.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Ryan Singson, in a press briefing on Sunday, said he recommended that the investigators and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should focus their investigation on how the four casualties were able to go to the town and in the province carrying firearms despite the implementation of a gun ban.
He did not, however, identify the fatalities as “supporters” of the rival candidates as they were not registered voters of the province.
“We cannot say that those who died are supporters because they are not voting in Ilocos Sur,” said Singson in Ilocano. This made it appear that they are “goons,” he said.
Singson said the incident should not deter Magsingal residents from going out to vote on Monday, assuring that the province remained peaceful and safe.
Provincial election supervisor Alipio Castillo, in the same briefing, said there was also no need to escalate the election category of Magsingal town or to even place it under Comelec control.
“At this point and stage, one day before the elections and given the circumstances, it is no longer necessary to declare Comelec control over the town as we are assured by the police, Army and provincial government that there would be no more violence,” he said. INQ
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