ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines – Police have arrested the suspect in the Sunday, May 1 killing of the vice mayor’s brother in Payao town, the province’s first election-related incidence of violence in this year’s contest.
Police Colonel Albert Larubis, provincial director of Zamboanga Sibugay, said Celso Indino, Sr. was wounded when his assailant, identified as Asraf Dacula, shot him on the chest following a scuffle among the supporters of opposing mayoralty candidates in Barangay Guiwan.
The victim died hours after undergoing treatment in a hospital.
Larubis said the suspect is the son of vice mayoralty candidate Jucarnain Dacula.
Dacula is the running mate of mayoralty candidate Elizabeth Gubat against councilor Joshua Mendoza, who is seeking to replace his father, Mayor Joeper Mendoza.
The suspect is now in police custody and Larubis considers the case closed.
“It’s election-related,” Larubis said.
The Sunday killing happened three days after gunmen killed Crestituto Halop, the councilor of Barangay Guinoman in Diplahan town, on Thursday, April 28.
Larubis said the suspect in the killing of the 67-year-old councilor was already arrested.
While the Payao killing was election-related, the killing in Diplahan has no connection to the May 9 elections, the police chief said.
“Personal grudge was the motive of the killing of the barangay councilor,” he explained.
Lawyer Allan Kadon, who replaced Ahmad Taib Musa as the provincial election supervisor effective Wednesday, May 4 is going to recommend the change of the category of Payao town from Green to Yellow.
The Green category means there is no security concern in the area.
“We are going to place the town under close watch to prevent the escalation of hostilities,” he said.
Larubis said additional police and military troops have been deployed in Payao town.
Antonio Manaytay is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship