Seares: Violence in Lapu-Lapu: drugs, politics

KILLINGS in Lapu-Lapu City are often dismissed by the police as isolated. Last Feb. 24 though, when four lethal shooting incidents erupted in a span of 24 hours, the police chief said they’re tapping more patrols and checkpoints.

Two were dead
Last Friday (April 6) Marciano “Jhun” Alforque, a dealer in butane canisters, was about to board his car in Soong when shots rang out from unidentified men on a motorcycle, wounding him in the stomach.
Alforque survived. but these two other victims in earlier incidents did not:
[] Last Feb. 18, Remegio “Bo” Oyao was in his Ford pickup truck, stalled in traffic on Agus Road, in front of a barbecue station, when he was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen;
[] Last March 3, Neil Tumulak, 33, was on board his motorcycle in Maribago when he was shot dead, with the gunmen still not identified.

Three incidents, two of which had the common element of illegal drugs:
-- Oyao was previously indicted for a drug-related offense but the charge was dismissed. His brother Washington “Inday” Oyao was shot dead by unidentified assailants inside his store in Malinao in September 2016.
--Tumulak was identified in an report as a “drug user.”

The elections
But here’s the common element of all three incidents: the barangay elections on May 14.
-- Oyao, a former barangay chief, was to run for barangay captain in Agus;
-- Neil Tumulak was the son of Titing Tumulak who’s running for barangay captain in Pajac;
-- Alforque will run for barangay captain in Buaya.
And the three were affiliated with a political group that opposes Radaza administration bets.

Adelino B. Sitoy, President Duterte’s adviser on legislative matters and chief of Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO), found the political factor disturbing. He said Oyao who would’ve run against the candidate of Mayor Paz Radaza had refused a request to drop his plan to run.

Sitoy, who led the local party Kusgano that battled against the Radazas in 2016, also said Alforque wanted but failed to get a list of detainees and prisoners at the city jail in Soong following reports that they were registered in the barangay, although they are residents in other places. Alforque was leaving the jail and was getting into his pickup when he was shot.

Whatever the motive in the shootings, for now it appears to be either drugs or politics, or a mix of both.

“Free yourself”
If the murders in Lapu-Lapu have yet to alarm its officials and citizens, they must be used already to the “occasional and sporadic” crime outbursts in their city.
They might be more active in their response if, heavens forbid, casualties would include tourists and investors. Or worse, the culture of impunity, which unfailingly breeds violence, would spread to business rivalry and crimes against property.
Reports of breach of the peace could hurt Lapu-Lapu’s efforts to sell the city as the “Historic Resorts City.” Launched only last July 2014, it uses the catchphrase “Free yourself,” which includes freedom from being hit by a stray bullet.

Can’t stop meddling
The three shooting incidents involving personalities in barangay politics tended to indicate:
[] Those waging the campaign against illegal drugs may not be content with the plan to publicize a list of drug suspects among the candidates; a dash of murder in the brew could be part of the war plan;
[] Rival politicians unavoidably will be suspected for having a hand in the violence. Innocent or not, they profit from the elimination of competition.
And the reality that is almost as destructive as motorcycle-riding contract killers: meddling of politicians in a theoretically nonpartisan, apolitical activity.
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