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LAOAG CITY, Philippines – Five newly-elected barangay captains in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, have sought police protection after they received what appeared to be death threats ahead of the Liga ng mga Barangay (Liga) elections in the province set on Friday, December 15.
Sarrat police identified the village officials as Arniel Paulino of Barangay 1, Reynante Hermano of Barangay 24, Agnes Domingo of Barangay 12, Jil Aguilar of Barangay 16, and Richard Agpaoa of Barangay 11 – all from the same political party.
All five barangay captains personally reported to the Sarrat Municipal Police Station the alleged threat against their lives on Tuesday, December 12, after they received wrapped gifts with a “white ribbon, an angpao (red envelope) with a small black pin inside, a candle, and a black shawl.” These items are used as part of funeral customs and traditions in the province.
After they received the gifts, all of the barangay captains received the a text message written in Ilokano from an unknown number that said, “Naimbag ken nagasat a bigat apo Capitan Naawat mo met laeng tay regalo [?] (Good Morning barangay captain, did you receive the gift[?])”
Investigators said that all the village captains believed that the act was connected to the upcoming Liga elections in Sarrat on December 15.
The Liga ng mga Barangay is an organization of all barangays throughout the country which is composed of different chapters, including the municipal, city, provincial, metropolitan, regional, and national chapters.
The duly elected president of the Liga at the municipal, city, and provincial chapters shall serve as ex-officio members of the Sangguniang Bayan, Sangguniang Panlungsod, and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, respectively.
The police said that one of the five village chiefs seeking protection is eyeing to be elected as president of the Sarrat chapter of the Liga.
Police said that they have augmented the security and law enforcement operations in Sarrat town following the incident. The village officials were also provided with security to ensure their safety.
Other possible motives are being looked into, said police,
Captain Reycar Almazan, Sarrat police officer-in-charge, said in a separate press conference on Wednesday that the gifts were left at the barangay halls, and some were left in front of their houses.
The incident happened nearly two weeks after the killing of Helen Abrigado, a village chief from nearby Marcos town.
On December 1, Abrigado was shot dead by still unidentified men while she was on her way home after attending the Christmas kick-off at the Marcos municipal hall. – Rappler.com