CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – The national police created a task force to investigate the attack that wounded two prominent Misamis Occidental politicians in Tangub City on Wednesday night, December 22.
Brigadier General Benjamin Acorda Jr., police director for northern Mindanao, created Special Investigation Task Group Oaminal-Gutierrez-Almonte to focus on the case.
Initial police investigation showed that the attack was carried out by a sniper who fired a single shot that sent Lopez Jaena Mayor and vice gubernatorial bet Michael Gutierrez to an intensive care unit of a hospital in Ozamiz City.
Gutierrez, the running mate of Deputy Speaker and gubernatorial bet Henry Oaminal, was hit by the bullet that pierced through his temple and exited his nape.
With brain injuries, Gutierrez is fighting for life at the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Medical Center in Ozamiz City.
His party mate, former Oroquieta City mayor and 1st District congressional aspirant Jason Almonte, was also rushed to a hospital with a splinter wound on the nape.
“Jason is now okay, but I appeal to the public for your continued prayers for Mayor Michael’s complete recovery, and everyone’s safety,” said Representative Oaminal, the leader of the Partido Demokrariko Pilipino-Team Asenso group and host of the now spoiled Christmas party.
Oaminal, who said he was slightly wounded, decried the attack and called it a “desperate and cowardly attempt on our lives.”
He said, “The assassin’s bullet barely missed me, with the intention of bereaving my beloved family this Yuletide season…. We will seek out those responsible in the name of fair and peaceful elections.”
Acorda said the special task group started work to thoroughly investigate and identify those behind the attack.
He also called on people with useful information that could help investigators to come forward and get in touch with the police.
Gutierrez’s daughter Pinky, herself a mayoral aspirant in Lopez Jaena town, said she hoped that the group created by Acorda would help her family get answers about the attack.
She said her father and other members of their family had planned a surprise for her 19-year-old brother in time for his December 23 birthday, “and this happened.”
Pinky also took to social media and posted this message for her unconscious father: “Pa, gahulat mi sa imong pag mata balik. 2 days nalang pasko na.” (Pa, we are waiting for you to wake up again. Two more days and it will be Christmas Day.)
In a statement, the Gutierrezes said the Lopez Jaena mayor went through surgery that was completed around 3 am on Thursday, December 23. The family however announced that the bullet damaged the left and right parts of Gutierrez’s brain.
Gutierrez had filed his certificate of candidacy under the ticket of Oaminal who has challenged the reelection bid of Misamis Occidental Governor Philip Tan.
The Oaminals and the Tans are well-entrenched political dynasties in the province.
One of Oaminal’s sons, Sancho Fernando, is the mayor of Ozamiz City who has filed his certificate of candidacy for the congressional post that would be vacated by his father in the province’s 2nd District in 2022. Another son, Henry Jr., is aspiring to succeed his brother as Ozamiz mayor.
Tan and his wife Jennifer, meanwhile, are the leaders of the ruling political group in Misamis Occidental. Jennifer is the current mayor of Tangub, a city where the governor also served as mayor. –Rappler.com