POLICE are monitoring at least 25 suspected armed personalities in Daanbantayan, northern Cebu.
At past 10 a.m. Sunday, reelectionist Tabogon Mayor Zigfred Duterte claimed that the house of his supporter, a barangay official, was shot several times by his political opponent Rodrigo “Roding” Sinoy.
Duterte said that Somosa Barangay Captain Andrew Nolasco was not hit, but suffered minor wounds in the left leg after he fell while running away from Sinoy’s group.
Duterte and Nolasco, accompanied by their lawyer, had the strafing incident recorded in the blotter at the police station.
In Sta. Fe, Cebu, a suspected goon of a local politician was found dead in front of the house of Sta. Fe Mayor Jose Esgana last Saturday night.
Gilbert Delima, 37, a resident of Barangay Suba, Bantayan town, was reportedly shot in front of Esgana’s house in Barangay Talisay, Santa Fe at 11:33 p.m. last Saturday.
After the assailants shot Delima, they dragged his body inside the gate of the mayor’s house.
Esgana told police that he earlier heard gunshots outside his house. He checked and saw part of Delima’s body already inside his gate.
Insp. Romeo Caacoy Jr., Santa Fe Police chief, told reporters that Delima was holding a .38 caliber pistol with four bullets in his left hand.
Five empty shells of .45 caliber pistol were also recovered outside the mayor’s residence.
Caacoy said Delima was on board his motorcycle when he met the assailants just before reaching the mayor’s house.
When the gunmen fired at him, Delima left his motorcycle and ran toward Esgana’s house.
Caacoy said they suspected that the shooting was politically motivated as Delima is allegedly identified with a local politician in Bantayan during the previous elections.
They are also looking at other angles as the victim was earlier involved in illegal drug possession in Bantayan a few years back.
While admitting that he had received threats, Esgana denied knowing the victim or if he was connected with his political rivals.
In Daanbantayan, Senior Insp. Roger Amoroso said majority of the suspicious men came from Danao City and Masbate.
The town police chief said these men could be members of a private armed groups hired by a candidate. He did not mention the name of the politician.
Daanbantayan is one of the seven towns included in the election watchlist of areas (Ewas), while Tabogon is not in the list.
Bogo City is also in the Ewas. Police have recorded intense political rivalry and election-related incidents in the past.
Quijano urged politicians not to resort to violence.
“Mi-air ko sa local radio station diri. Mihangyo ko sa mga politiko - administrasyon, oposisyon ug independent - nga kon mahimo nindot ang resulta ning eleksiyona. Unta, wala lay gubot-gubot nga diin dili sila mogamit og private armed Groups (I asked all politicians to avoid violence and using private armed groups for a peaceful election),” said Quijano.
The police official said they received a tip about the armed group last Friday. One of the men is familiar to him and Quijano told him to go back to his place.
Police have intensified checkpoints and operations against loose firearms.
Daanbantayan Police Station has more than 20 personnel, who are augmented with more than 20 police and military personnel.
In Bogo City, teacher Lanilda Putong said they are ready for today’s elections.
Last Friday, during the final testing of the vote counting machines (VCMs), Putong said they encountered a few glitches, such as paper jams.
These problems were solved. Teachers were assured there are VCMs inspectors to monitor problems of VCMs.
Putong is tasked to be part of the support staff at the Bogo City Central School, one of the biggest voting centers in the city.
The Tabogon incident was already brought to the attention of the town police chief, Senior Insp. Audie Pelayo, who said they are still conducting an investigation on the incident.
Nolasco said he has two witnesses.
Before the incident at past 10 a.m. yesterday, the village chief was talking with his supporters. Sinoy and two unidentified men armed with KG9 machine pistols arrived. Sinoy allegedly confronted Nolasco for persuading his supporters to abandon Liberal Party.
Felicitas Tiquillo, 67, saw the incident.
One of the armed men then opened fire at Nolasco’s house, but no one was hit.
Nolasco ran toward the back of his house and fell.
“Giingnan ko nga pa surenderon kuno nako akong tawo. Ingon ko nganong pasurenderon man boss, unsa may sala ani? Ingon siya pasurendira lang ni kay akong mga tawo imong gipangkuha (They asked me to surrender my supporters),” said Nolasco.
Duterte, for his part, said he told Nolasco to group their supporters who will serve as watchers for the election today. They were given allowances.
He said the goons were from Bogo City.
Duterte and Nolasco are supporters of reelectionist Rep. Benhur Salimbangon, who is opposed by Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. who is running under the Liberal Party.
Sinoy is in the slate of Martinez.
In Ronda, Mayor Mariano Blanco III claimed that armed men on board SUVs allegedly fired at his car at the National Road in Barangay Butong, Ronda.
At 11:45 p.m. last Saturday, Blanco and an unidentified companion were on board his car when they encountered the two SUVs.
As they passed by the two vehicles, an unidentified passenger of one of the cars came out fired at the mayor’s car. The mayor and his companion weren’t hurt.