A BOUNTY of P5.7 million has been put out by San Fernando's mayoral rivals on the mastermind and killers of the mayor's husband and two town employees.
San Fernando Mayor Lakambini "Neneth" Reluya announced in a press conference on Thursday morning, Feb. 21, that her family and friends have raised P2.2 million to be used as reward to anyone who can lead to the identification and arrest of the assailants.
Learning this, her political opponent Ruben Feliciano sent a text message to SunStar Cebu that he, too, is putting out a bounty of P3.5 million for the same purpose.
At the press conference held at Grand Convention Center of Cebu, Reluya said the amount was raised three days after the Jan. 22 ambush that claimed the lives of her husband, Ricardo "Nonoy" Reluya, the town's tourism officer and the van driver.
She and two passengers, also municipal employees, were hit by bullets but survived the ambush at 5:30 p.m. on the highway of Barangay Linao, Talisay City.
"This is to reward those who can provide vital, significant information that will help in the investigation of this case," she said.
She faced reporters alone.
She provided the numbers to call for information that will lead to the arrest of the mastermind and the killers. All tips will be verified.
These are 0906-315-7045, 0922-342-7228 or 0939- 406-8325.
The Special Investigation Task Group Reluya will validate the information gathered from tipsters.
Reluya hopes for justice to be served soon, as she appealed to the motorists who saw the attack on her group to come out and help in the investigation.
"I would like to request those who were able to witness the shooting, that time it happened, traffic sa bandang south, naay mga sakyanan. So dili gyod ingon nga wala. There were many witnesses. Please help us to resolve this case for this will set the tone of the next election," she said.
Reluya, facing the press for the first time since the Jan. 22 ambush, said that she has no plan to withdraw from the 2019 elections, and that the ambush made her more motivated to run.
"In the hands of wrong people, delikado ang San Fernando, I need to go back," Reluya said.
Almost a month after the attack, she is trying to recover from her traumatic experience and that she is recuperating from the gunshot wounds, she said.
She showed a bandaged wound on her shoulder.
"When it happened my husband was protecting me. I covered my ears and I didn't know if naigo ba ko o wala. But now, I am trying to be okay. It was a traumatic experience," she said.
There are times during bedtime that she feels going through the scary experience again, she said.
Reluya and her party have been granted security by Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Debold Sinas during the campaign period.
She said she has yet to see the two others who survived with her. Their wounds were worse than hers but they have cooperated in the police investigation, she said.
She denied Feliciano's accusation that the ambush was drug-related.
"If you look at this face, is this the face of a drug protector? He just wanted to be known because he is not from San Fernando nor from Cebu," she said.
"With all the negative comments online, it's all propaganda. That's the most they can do," she said.
At Feliciano's end, the businessman from Mindanao said he too is putting out a bounty only that it's bigger than Reluya's.
It's P3.5 million, Feliciano said in an exchange of text messages with SunStar Cebu.
Feliciano, president of the First Sangat SF International Port Corp., has been locking horns with the Reluyas over his multi-million-peso international port project in Barangay Sangat, San Fernando. Reluya and the municipal council have not granted him permits to build the port.
He has been saying that he has nothing to do with the ambush or attempts to kill the Reluyas. He has offered himself to the provincial police chief to be investigated and have his name cleared.
Yesterday, he said Reluya can easily raise a bounty of P2.2 million but has not been paying the salaries of some municipal employees.
"I will also put up the same amount representing (the) bounty," said Feliciano, adding that he wants to match Reluya's reward so the killers can be arrested.
A few hours later, he increased his bounty to P3.5 million.
He reiterated his accusation that the mayor is a "drug protector" and won the 2016 elections "using drug money of self-confessed drug lord Franz Sabalones." Meanwhile in the political front, Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas expressed worry for his Alayon partymates in San Fernando in the wake of the Reluya ambush.
Running for a fresh term as congressman of Cebu's first district, Gullas in a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 21, said the Alayon Party is thinking of providing security for their support staff such as lawyers and paralegal once they get their assignments in the first district. (With JKV & GMD)