5 killed, reporter kidnapped in Philippines
MANILA, Philippines – Five people were killed in separate ambushes in the volatile southern Philippines, police and the military said Sunday, and a radio reporter was kidnapped by armed men on the eve of mid-term elections.
Two men armed with short firearms abducted radio journalist Melinda Jennifer Glifonea at dawn on Sunday at a restaurant in Candelaria, a farming town three hours south of Manila.
“We are not discounting the possibility it could be related to her work,” local police spokesman Chief Inspector Edcille Canals told AFP by telephone.
He said Glifonea was known to carry stinging political commentary on her show at the local 103.1 FM Edgeradio. He did not elaborate.
Her abduction comes at the end of a violent weekend which saw five deaths on the campaign trail ahead of Monday’s vote in which more than 18,000 posts are up for grabs, from mayors and governors to members of parliament.
Communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in the southern Philippines ambushed Saturday the convoy of town mayor Joelito Jacosalem Talaid, wounding the politician and killing four of his bodyguards.
Talaid, who is seeking re-election as mayor of Kadingilan town in Mindanao island, was carrying a large sum of money when his convoy was targeted, provincial police chief Superintendent Orlando Binas said.
The NPA, which has been waging a rebellion for more than 40 years, has been known to attack local politicians who refuse to pay extortion money in exchange for campaigning in its areas.
Talaid’s ambush came on the same day as heavily armed men also attacked the convoy of Omar Baba, a candidate for mayor in South Upi town, also in Mindanao.
Baba and an aide were wounded, while his cousin was killed, regional military chief Colonel Dickson Hermoso said.
Hermoso said no one had claimed responsibility for Baba’s ambush, but noted that South Upi had earlier been placed among potential “hot spots” where violence was likely to erupt.
Six other candidates are contesting the post of mayor, he said.
Revenge killings among politicians are common in local politics across the Philippines, where a proliferation of unlicensed firearms has long aggravated the political situation.
More than 60 people have already been killed during campaigning, which began in February, and the government has sent extra military and police to violence hotspots to prevent more bloodshed during Monday’s vote.
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