3 hurt as armed men led by disqualified mayor of Lanao Norte town fire shots at town hall
KAUSWAGAN, Lanao del Norte, Philippines — At least three civilians were wounded when armed men, allegedly led by disqualified mayor Rommel Arnado, fired at tents that were set up outside the town hall here on Saturday night.
The shooting happened more than an hour before the Commission on Election’s implementation of the gun ban.
In August 2015, the Supreme Court, in an en banc decision, said Arnado was a US citizen and was unfit to run for any elective post in the Philippines. But he refused to vacate his position, prompting Florante Capitan, who lost to Arnado in the 2013 polls, and his supporters to set up tents outside and occupy the town hall.
On Monday, seven persons were injured in a melee between the followers of the two politicians. Capitan’s group, backed by the camp of Casan Maquiling, another Arnado rival, had tried to enter the town hall, claiming Capitan had already been installed as mayor.
Capitan said by disqualifying the mayor, the Supreme Court had installed him as the rightful mayor.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), however, has not issued any order for Arnado to vacate his post.
Arnado said the issue against him was under appeal, but Capitan maintained the Supreme Court’s decision was final.
But on Saturday night, Arnado and his men allegedly fired at the protesters outside the town hall.
Maquiling and Capitan said Arando was drunk when he led members of the Civil Security Unit (CSU) in harassing the protesters.
Monita Tomimbang, a supporter of Maquiling and Capitan, said she saw Arnado and his men fired their guns as they stood in the nearby highway.
There were at least 40 people staying in the tents. Two men and a female were hit by stray bullets.
Akhmad Sanguila, who lives near the town hall, said his house and television set were also hit by bullets.
On Sunday morning, Supt. Madid Paitao, the provincial police chief, ordered the relief of Insp. Mark Ian Quieta as town police chief.
Maquiling said they would file multiple attempted murder and physical injury cases against Arnado and his men.
“I am also calling on all PNP personnel in Kauswagan and Lanao del Norte not to take Arnado’s side because it’s very obvious that Arnado led the harassment,” he said, adding that a tent was also burned by the mayor’s group.
But Arnado denied the allegations. He said he ordered the CSU members to check on a report that armed men in 10 motorcycles arrived at the town hall.
“It was the camp of Maquiling and Capitan who fired first, and we only responded,” Arnado told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Arnado also denied he was drunk when the shooting happened.
“I just had a little drink because I had visitors from Cebu and Tacloban,” he said.
Lt. Col. Leomar Jose Doctolero, chief of the 15th Infantry Battalion, said witnesses claimed that before the shooting happened, Army soldiers tried to stop Arnado and his men.
“But they won’t listen,” Doctolero said.
He added that Maquiling’s supporters were not armed.
“We have deployed additional army troops in support to the police to prevent further hostilities,” Doctolero added. SFM
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