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DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – Police have arrested the suspects and the alleged mastermind behind the October 22 killing of barangay chairman candidate Arnel Adolfo Flormata in Pangasinan.
in a press conference Thursday, October 26, Pangasinan police chief Colonel Jeff Fanged identified the alleged mastermind as Barangay Bayaoas chairperson Maria Magnolia Repancol Gelido, who is vying for reelection.
Flormata is the sole opponent of Gelido.
Fanged said that Gelido allegedly ordered a certain Kelly Doroy Rosario to kill Flormata on October 22, after a political rally in the area.
After he delivered his speech at the campaign rally, Flormata was walking to his vehicle parked around 20 meters from the rally area when he was approached by Rosario. Rosario supposedly asked Flormata for liquor, then shot him, and fled on a tricycle driven by Jayson Marquez Vicente.
Fanged said Vicente voluntarily surrendered and told police that he never thought that Flormata would be killed. Vicente was supposedly told that the plan was to just cause a ruckus at Flormata’s political caucus.
Vicente also reportedly told police that he did not know who he would team up with until the night of the incident.
Following Vicente’s surrender, police launched a hot pursuit operation and arrested Rosario, who surrendered peacefully.
Fanged said Rosario was a former member of a gun-for-hire group and served time at the Pangasinan Provincial Jail.
Gelido was arrested in her residence.
Vicente, Rosario, and Gelido, along with a John Doe, were all filed murder complaints.
Despite her arrest and the murder complaint she faced, Pangasinan provincial election supervisor Marino Salas said that Gelido’s candidacy remained valid as she was not yet convicted.
Salas, however, said that if Gelido were to be reelected and later found guilty of murder, the Department of the Interior and Local Government would take over.
Slain candidate’s wife takes over
Flormata’s wife, Jacqueline, filed her certificate of candidacy on Wednesday, October 25, to substitute for him.
Flormata’s mother, Narcisa, said they will continue her son’s fight. She had flown all the way from Alaska to support Flormata’s candidacy, arriving on October 18 or only four days before the tragedy.
Pangasinan Governor Ramon Guico III, who attended the press conference, assured the Flormata family of help in the case, and also financial assistance.
Meanwhile, Salas said that due to the incident, Barangay Bayaoas has been upgraded to orange category or areas of immediate concern due to recent election-related incidents.
Barangay Bayaoas in Aguilar, and Barangay Asin Este in Malasiqui town have been placed under the orange category.
The towns of Mangatarem, Burgos, and San Quintin have been placed under yellow category due to history of political violence.