NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – The mayor of Moises Padilla town here vehemently denied being the mastermind behind an April 25 ambush that killed the brother and nephew of his town’s vice mayor.
In a press conference Monday, April 29, at the municipal hall of Pulupandan town, Mayor Magdaleno Peña laughed when he was pressed if he was behind the attack, saying, “That’s a silly question, do you want a silly answer?”
“I point back at them. They kill each other. They have a history of killing each other… man is a creature of habit,” the mayor said.
Vice Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo’s brother, Mark Garcia, and nephew, Councilor Michael Garcia, were killed in an ambush following a campaign trail at Barangay Inolingan. They vice mayor survived the attack after her brother and nephew sacrificed their lives so she and the others could take cover in the nearby houses.
She is seeking the mayoral post against Peña, her uncle, in the upcoming elections.
But Peña remained unfazed. According to him, the majority of people in Moises Padilla supports him because of his performance.
“It’s possible the Army sent a special unit to take care of things there, we don’t know. Or Ella killed her relatives, I don’t know, they have that history,” the mayor claimed.
He said he’s sure the case will be dismissed at the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Moreover, he slammed the top officials of the province for offering a P2 million reward to anyone who can provide information that can lead to the arrest of the killers.
Thirty persons were already charged for the ambush and slay of the Garcias.
Charges that range from murder, double murder, to attempted murder were filed on April 26 before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against reelectionist Moises Padilla Councilor Agustin Grande III; Joe Cezar, a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT), 5 identified suspects whose names have not yet been released by police, and 23 John Does.
The prosecutor ordered the release of Grande from custody due to insufficient evidence for his warrantless arrest while it affirmed the validity of the warrantless arrest against Cezar.
Grande, who was also at the press conference Monday, also denied his supposed role in the ambush. He stressed that his name was dragged into the case due to revenge.
This is because he recently filed a murder case against the vice mayor for her alleged role in the killing of his brother Magdaleno in 2016, which remained unsolved, he said.
“I have nothing to do with the Garcia killings as I do not hold any personal grudges against them. I do not need to put the law into my hands as I have already sought the proper remedy of filing a criminal complaint,” he said.
He also announced he is offering P2.5 million reward to anybody who can give details that could lead to the arrest of the killers of the Garcias and to the other perpetrators who perpetrated the killings in their town.
The councilor, who showed and counted the P2.5 million cash in front of the local media, said, “May kwarta ko. Nag utang ko. Damo man ko kwarta (I have money. I have a debt. I have much money),” he added.
Michael Garcia was the third councilor to be killed in the province this year. The ambush on April 25 came 3 weeks after reelectionist Moises Padilla Councilor Jolomar Hilario was killed in his home on March 30 in Barangay Inolingan by the New People’s Army. It also occurred 3 days after Escalante City Councilor Bernardino Patigas was shot dead on April 22. – Rappler.com
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