Bukidnon mayor killed in ambush

DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – A town mayor in Bukidnon was killed when suspected communist rebels ambushed his convoy on Wednesday morning, July 2, military officials said.

Major Christian Uy, spokesman of the military's 4th Infantry Division, confirmed the death of Impasug-ong Mayor Mario Okinlay, who sustained gunshot wounds after armed men attacked his convoy.

Uy said in an earlier interview that at around 8:20 am, 3 armed men opened fire on the mayor's convoy on its way to the town proper, after a medical mission in the village of Bontongon. 

"Mayor Okinlay was hurt in the ambush and our priority concern was to immediately evacuate him to the hospital," Uy said. 

The military said the mayor was brought to the Polymedic Hospital in Malaybalay City, but after an hour, or around 11:30 am, he was declared dead by the attending physician.

Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Gille, 4th ID civil-military operations chief said that based on initial reports, the attack was conducted by members of the New People's Army (NPA).

The gunmen are believed to belong to the South Eastern Command (SECOM) 89 of the North-Central Mindanao Regional Committee (NCMRC) of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA (CPP-NPA).

State security forces are presently conducting pursuit operations against the gunmen.

Okinlay was active in peace-building initiatives in Bukidnon. He is the brother of Sylvia Okinlay-Paraguya, National Confederation of Cooperatives (NATCCO) chief executive officer and a member of the government peace panel negotiating with the  Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) during the Arroyo administration.

Another Bukidnon mayor was ambushed last year, but this time, by robbers. On May 11, 2013, Joselito Jacosalem Talaid, mayor of Kadilingan, Bukidnon, was injured after being shot by suspected robbers who ran away with P7 million in cash from the politician. – Rappler.com