Cabinet exec links Cagayan gov to ambush
MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer (PLLO) Secretary Manuel Mamba accused newly-proclaimed Cagayan Gov Alvaro Antonio of being responsible for the failed shooting of Mamba’s convoy in Alcala, Cagayan on election day, Monday, May 13.
In a phone interview with Rappler, Mamba went over the details before and after the shooting.
He said the four-car convoy was heading towards the North when they stopped in the town of Baybayog to observe the elections. They were driving along the main highway of Alcala when they heard gunshots. Only the fourth car at the tail end of the convoy, a bullet-proofed Expedition owned by Manuel’s younger brother, William Mamba, was hit. (William Mamba ran for governor under the Liberal Party against Antonio but lost.)
The driver, an aide, and a police officer were inside the car. Manuel was in the Fortuner, the car in the lead.
“I believe na naka-abang sila sa sentro,” he said. He added that Antonio was standing in a waiting shed near the town hall with two other men, wearing a white shirt and holding an AK-47. The town hall is close to the governor’s house.
He said they could not drive fast or stop in the governor’s turf. The Fortuner was already 5 to 7 meters away from the waiting shed when the governor fired the convoy.
The Expedition overheated 10 km away from the town hall. No one was hurt when the gunshots were fired at the back, the passenger’s right side, and the radiator, which caused the overheating.
“Akala ko tinatakot lang kami kasi nagmumura siya,” Manuel explained. His convoy stopped at Gattaran, the town after Alcala, to file a blotter of the incident.
He called Regional Director Atty. Rodrigo P. De Gracia to report the incident, but the director already knew what happened to them even before he called.
Manuel cited various reasons as to why his life would be threatened.
“Siguro ayaw niyang mapasok yung town niya. Bayan [kasi yun] ni Governor, bayan ng anak nya,” he said. “’Di naman ako kandidato. They were threatening a lot of mayors [beforehand],” he said, referring to mayors Marjorie Salazar of Lasam and Aaron Sampaga of Pamplona who he said were Antonio’s allies but sided with the Mambas this election.
He also said that hooded, armed men in vans were roaming around Cagayan Sunday night, urging residents not to vote last Monday.
When told about Antonio’s denial of his allegations, Manuel said there are witnesses but their identities cannot be disclosed yet for protection.
The damaged car is now with the SOCO for investigation.
A former three-term congressman, Manuel was appointed as PLLO chief in November 2011 by President Benigno Aquino III. His wife, Mabel Villarica Mamba, is a director at the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).
In 2007, the Mamba clan, led by former congressman Mamba, supported Antonio in his gubernatorial bid against former Cagayan governor Edgar Lara of the Nationalist People's Coalition. Antonio defeated Lara in the gubernatorial race.
Three years later, it was Manuel's turn to challenge Governor Antonio. Backed by the Enriles, Antonio won a second term in 2010 and defeated the elder Mamba.
“Sinusuka yan ng mga Cagayanos…Ang hilig pumapel, gumawa ng eksena…Pinagmamayabang nya [na malapit siya sa Presidente]…He think’s he’s above the law,” newly-proclaimed Cagayan Governor Alvaro Antonio said about Manuel Mamba.
He said on the day of the incident, he was resting inside his house at around 1:30 to 2 PM when he heard gunshots. He immediately ran to the highway, a hundred meters away from his house, where a crowd already emerged. He no longer saw the convoy.
As opposed to what Mamba described, Antonio said the convoy was too fast. He said eyewitnesses saw the convoy firing gunshots in the air. He can’t remember what he was wearing, but he said he usually wears white.
He also said he doesn’t own any AK-47.
“I have no motive or reason to do the ambush. Who would [do an ambush] in front of Alcala Central School, Alcala Police Station, and the municipal building?” he explained, adding that at that time of the election, a lot of people were still voting.
He said he already knew he was winning because at the time, he was already leading his rival William Mamba, brother of Manuel, by 120,000 votes. Thus he would not have a motive to ambush the Cabinet officer.
“Gumagawa na lang sya ng storya. Gusto niya lang mapansin para matigil ang eleksyon—something to delay or impede my proclamation,” Antonio defended, saying that Mamba is using his influences with media to discredit him.
“I have never been confrontational, I was never involved with violence. I’m media-shy, but not this time [because] my credibility is at stake,” he said, hoping that investigation pushes through so that justice will prevail and truth will come out.
According to Earl Parreño, a staff of William, the Liberal Party candidate will be filing a petition to disqualify Antonio in the election. The petition stems from the alleged ambush on Manuel, as well as violation of the gun ban and illegal possession of firearms. Parreño said Antonio owns seven AK47, 6 of which have expired licenses. - Rappler.com