SAN Fernando Mayor Lakambini Reluya survived an ambush in Barangay Linao, Talisay City, Cebu at dusk of Tuesday, Jan. 22, but not her husband and two other companions in the van.

Reluya and her five companions, including her husband Ricardo “Nonoy” Reluya Jr., were aboard a white Grandia van on their way to San Fernando town from Cebu City.

Upon reaching Barangay Linao, Talisay City at about 5:30 p.m., a white Innova sidled up to the Grandia and strafed its left side.

Her husband, who was seated behind the driver, died instantly.

The driver, Allan Bayot, and another passenger, the town’s local economic, investments and promotions officer Ricky Monterona, who was most likely seated on the left side of the van, died on the spot too.

Two bodyguards, Giovanni Perez and Tolentin Jeper, survived the attack along with the mayor. All three were wounded and rushed to a hospital.

Talisay City Police Station Chief Marlu Conag said the mayor was stable and he has assigned policemen to watch over her.

Conag said several residents of Barangay Linao saw what happened and he is investigating the attack.

The Reluyas are the latest public officials of San Fernando targeted for murder in the last nine months.

Nonoy Reluya was the current barangay captain of Panadtaran and president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) in San Fernando. As ABC president, he sat as ex-officio member of the Municipal Council. He was a candidate for vice mayor of the town in the May 2019 elections.

In local elections, the ABC president has a crucial role in the delivery of votes for candidates, especially for single-post candidates such as mayor, vice mayor and congressman because of his influence over the barangay captains and officials.

A week before last night’s ambush, Nonoy had told SunStar Cebu that he, his wife and some local politicians had been named in the “kill list” of their political opponents led by mayoral candidate and businessman Ruben Feliciano.

Lakambini is seeking a fresh term as mayor, with Feliciano as her rival.

Named in Feliciano’s list were the Reluya couple, town councilor Rene Boy Dacalos, Magsico Barangay Captain Johnny Arriesgado and another councilor.

Checked off from the list: Dacalos, Arriesgado, Nonoy Reluya.

On March 14, 2018, San Fernando Councilor Alexander Alicaway was shot dead by riding-in-tandem gunmen near the public market in south Poblacion, San Fernando.

On Jan. 10 this year, Dacalos was shot dead while tending his store. Police believe the killing may have been drug-related as Dacalos was in the drug matrix that linked him to self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones.

Franz is the brother of San Fernando Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones.

On Jan. 16 or six days after Dacalos’s murder, Barangay Magsico chief Johnny Arriesgado was ambushed in Barangay South Poblacion, San Fernando. He was accused of being an illegal drug protector.

Nonoy was a candidate for vice mayor of San Fernando under his wife’s party, Alayon. He would have faced former mayor Antonio Canoy in the May 2019 elections.

The Reluya couple have been at odds with Feliciano since 2017 after Mayor Reluya issued an executive order stopping the implementation of his international port project in Barangay Sangat.

In retaliation, Feliciano filed an administrative case against the Reluya couple before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas last year. (LYM, AYB, JKV & Cleo Cartagena, CIT-U Intern)