THE campaign manager of Compostela mayor-elect Joel Quiño was killed in an ambush Monday night in the northern town’s Barangay Estaca.
Joselito Valencia Reynes succumbed to three gunshot wounds in the chest, torso and left arm. He was 62.
Reynes was driving his orange Hyundai car headed south around 10 that night when he was shot by two men on a motorcycle.
Though police have not yet concluded politics motivated the killing, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Lani-o Nerez ordered the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) to provide a temporary security detail for Quiño, who was with Reynes at a wake before the shooting.
Nerez added the police will also study the possibility of providing escorts for other councilors, if they see the need.
The proclamation of newly elected officials in Compostela has been delayed by an electoral protest that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to resolve.
Before a caretaker-mayor took over, demonstrations raised the tension around the
Reynes, Quiño said, had been active in the hearings at the Comelec and guided him about what to do. He added that when he came home for the town fiesta, it was Reynes who stayed behind in Manila to listen to the proceedings.
Though Quiño could not pinpoint who is responsible, he said it was difficult to discount the tension that has gripped Compostela since the election period.
He said he has received reports the houses of his supporters have been strafed.
“Dako gyud among pagtuo nga may kalabutan ang politika sa pagkamatay ni former councilor Reynes tungod kay kung tan-awon sa iyang personal nga kinabuhi wala kini kontra kay maayong tawo kini (We believe that politics is behind the death of former councilor Reynes because he had no personal enemies. He was a good man),” Quiño said in a statement.
Still, Director Nerez said they will also consider other motives for the killing.
A special investigating team headed by CPPO Director Erson Digal and composed of the Provincial Investigation and Detective Management Branch, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Regional Crime Laboratory has been created for the Reynes case.
Nerez said they invited some personalities for questioning yesterday, but no arrests were made as of press time.
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia also ordered Digal to conduct a full investigation of the death of Reynes, and sent her sympathy and condolences to Reynes’s family.
Dr. Nestor Sator, who conducted the autopsy, said he recovered a 9mm slug from Reynes’ body. Based on his initial findings, he said the gunman shot from the left side at a distance.
Asked if there is an established threat against Quiño, Nerez said he was able to apply for a security escort during the election period. He pointed out that one of the considerations for granting security escorts is the threat assessment.
Nerez has the authority to grant a 30-day temporary security detail. During this period, Nerez said it was best if Quiño applied for a permanent security detail before the Police Security Protection Group, which is the unit authorized to grant security escorts.
Former Compostela mayor Ritchie Wagas filed an electoral protest that led the Comelec to order the suspension of the proclamation.
The town is currently run by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 Director Pedro Noval.
Before Noval was installed, demonstrations were held by supporters of Wagas and Quiño.
At one point, troops from the Regional Public Safety Battalion were detailed in the town to make sure the tension did not escalate to violence.
In a phone interview, Noval said of the attack on Reynes: “We are looking at a personal angle.”
“I ordered the police to dig up the records and look for possible complainants in the past and call those people in (for questioning),” said Noval.
Interviewed separately, Quiño said that Reynes, as campaign manager, was very active in exposing several alleged anomalies of the past administration.
Noval said he did not agree with Quiño that there is disorder in Compostela. He also said that when he makes decisions, he would call on representatives from the camp of Quiño and that of former mayor Ritchie Wagas.
Reynes usually appears for Quiño and is very cordial with the other camp.
“He was a good person, he treated the opponent well. They were friendly with each other,” described Noval.
Noval will meet with members of the town’s peace and order council today, as well as the Philippine National Police to discuss the death of Reynes. He has already directed the Compostela police to investigate and solve the killing as soon as possible.
“All angles should be considered. We should not immediately suspect that politics is the reason behind the incident,” said Noval.