Sibonga village councilman slain-A A +A
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
A VILLAGE official was shot dead by two motorcycle-riding assailants in the southern town of Sibonga, Cebu last Sunday night.
The killing led the police to recommend placing the barangay among the election watch-list areas (EWAS) as the October 28 barangay poll draws near.
Gomersindo Sabanal, 49, a councilman of Barangay Manatad, died after being shot multiple times in his head and body, police said.
He was supposed to file his certificate of candidacy (COC) on Wednesday, as he planned to seek a third and last term in the barangay council.
Police investigators are not ruling out the possibility that the attack could be politically-motivated or business-related. But other angles are also being considered.
Chief Inspector Bonifacio Tecson, the town’s police chief, said the attack took place at 8 p.m. while Sabanal sat on a bamboo bench outside his house, together with two companions.
Suddenly, the assailants, who wore full-face helmets, arrived on a white Suzuki Smash motorcycle. One pulled out a gun and fired at Sabanal, hitting him in the body.
The gunman then alighted from their motorbike, which prompted Sabanal’s companions to run for safety, and shot the victim several times.
The assailants sped off toward Barangay Papan.
Sabanal was rushed to the district hospital in Carcar City, but was declared dead on arrival.
Police recovered four empty shells from a carbine rifle and a slug in the crime scene.
Chief Inspector Tecson, when interviewed by reporters, said the police are leaning toward Sabanal’s alleged affair with a married woman as a possible motive.
Last week, Sabanal reportedly received a death threat through a text message after he broke up with the woman. This, said Tecson, was the message: “Dunay mamatay ninyo diha (One of you is going to die).”
Sabanal and the woman were reportedly together for three years, then kept in touch after they broke up.
There were several occasions when the pair was reported to the police because of their quarrels. The woman would visit Sabanal for a few days and go back to her hometown.
Tecson said that the woman went to Sibonga on Monday upon hearing the news and was questioned by police.
During the press conference, the police chief also said someone could have been harboring a grudge against Sabanal, who had a lumber business.
Sabanal recently testified that a man blamed for a shooting incident in Argao last July wasn’t the culprit, Tecson said.
“Siguro ang iyang paglaban gikasuko sa hingtungdan sa biktima (Perhaps the shooting victim’s family was angered by his defense of the suspect),” Tecson said.
Sabanal’s wake is being held in the St. Peter Funeral Homes in Carcar City.
In a report over GMA 7’s “Balitang Bisdak”, his wife Teresita said they didn’t expect Sabanal’s life would end in violence.
“Makonsensiya unta ang nagpatay (I hope the killer heeds his conscience),” she said.
Senior Superintendent Noel Gillamac, director of the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO), will recommend that the barangay be listed as part of the EWAS as a security measure.
He said they will still have to discuss this in the Provincial Joint Security Control Center (PJSSC) meeting, together with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Due to intense political rivalry, the police placed 11 barangays from five towns under “election areas of concern”.
According to the list, the police are monitoring Pitalo, Panadtaran, Bug-o and Tongo in San Fernando.; Poblacion and Sima in Dumanjug; Sumon and Candabong in Tuburan; Cayang in Bogo City; and Cantubaon and Caduangon in Tabuelan.
They are classified under category one, where political rivalry is anticipated by authorities.
Gillamac has also directed the Provincial Intelligence Branch (PIB) and Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch (PIDMB) to help in the investigation.
Apart from this, an investigation is underway against Tecson for allegedly failing to report the incident involving Sabanal immediately.
Gillamac said it was standard operating procedure for police chiefs to inform their superior the soonest possible.
“We will deal with that later. We have to concentrate first on solving the case,” the police director said.
In a separate incident, a barangay assembly in Maharuhay, Medellin was disrupted after a barangay tanod (village watchman) shot dead his neighbor on Sunday at 4:30 p.m.
Police said that Eluminado Ybañez, 55, died from multiple gunshot wounds after being shot by Edgar Tumara, 52.
The victim was sitting on the basketball court when the suspect approached and shot him without any provocation.
Medellin Police Station Chief Fructuoso Lim Jr. said that Tumara told the victim’s wife he got his vengeance, while the crowd scattered to avoid any further gunfire.
One of the residents, Arnel Coronel, was also injured after being hit by a stray bullet in his left bicep.
Ybañez was rushed to the Bogo Provincial Hospital, but died on the way there. Four empty shells and two live bullets from a .45 pistol were recovered by police in the crime scene.
Police tried to chase the suspect, but failed to catch up with him.
Lim, in a phone interview, said that Tumara got mad at Ybañez after he was accused of shooting the victim several months ago.
This led to the arrest of Tumara, but he got out after posting bail. The victim and suspect reportedly fought over a land dispute before. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 15, 2013.