Zamboanga del Norte lawmaker escapes assassination try
ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE, Philippines (UPDATED) – Zamboanga del Norte First District Representative Seth Frederick Jalosjos escaped an assassination attempt during a campaign rally here on Tuesday, April 26.
"Following queries from the media, I am confirming that there was indeed an assassination attempt on my life yesterday," Jalosjos, a reelectionist, said in a press statement on Wednesday, April 27.
The incident happened at the miting de avance of the Alliance of Parties for Progress-Nacionalista Party (APP-NP) at the central public market in Barangay Poblacion, La Libertad on Tuesday.
Jalosjos said he was walking to the podium when "several armed persons carrying firearms with some wearing military fatigue uniforms suddenly fired multiple shots to our direction."
"As the crowd dispersed, the armed group advanced towards my direction. A shootout occurred for about 15 minutes. There were about 40 bullets fired. During the entire incident, which lasted over 30 minutes, not one policeman came, and their outpost was only across the street – less than 5 minutes from where the encounter occurred,” the lawmaker added.
Jalosjos said his two army escorts were able to return fire, which could have prevented the armed men from coming closer.
He criticized the police for arriving at the scene only after the incident, and accused them of being partisan.
“The police force may not choose who to protect against lawlessness. It is alarming when political colors stand in the way of protecting lives, especially of our civilians. Over a thousand supporters attended the rally and not one policeman came to protect them,” Jalosjos said.
He also said some of his local leaders and supporters had been “attacked” in the past few weeks but did not get “any assistance, support, protection, or remedy from the provincial police.”
Jalosjos is the son of former Zamboanga del Norte representative Romeo Jalosjos Sr, patriarch of the Jalosjos political clan.
Selective police protection?
Former governor Rolando E. Yebes, who is making another bid for governor, alleged that the armed group had police protection.
"It was 4 pm, and these armed men can easily get inside the market compound, fire at us and were able to withdraw without being detected by the police. That's impossible without some connivance," Yebes claimed.
He added that on their way to their rally area, the APP convoy passed by a checkpoint near the town proper manned by policemen and members of Special CAFGU Active Auxiliary (SCAA).
"Only Dipolog (City) maintains a unit of SCAA in the entire province, why the heaven these SCAA has reached La Libertad?" Yebes asked. APP has accused Liberal Party (LP) candidates, mostly incumbent local government officials, of deploying Dipolog SCAA in other places throughout the province to intimidate voters.
La Libertad Police Chief Pocholo Guerrero denied the allegations.
"I hope they understand that there were two rallies at that time, so our 12-man police force were divided into two. One group patroled the market area while the other group were securing the rally of incumbent (LP) Mayor Romeo J. Mejias at the barangays," he said.
The shooting incident happened when the convoy of Mejias was at the vicinity of the market.
On the late response, Guerrero explained that it is the standard operating procedure of authorities not to immediately respond to violent incidents because they first have to ensure their own safety before coming in.
During the confrontation between Guerrero and APP leaders after the incident, a man in military uniform was seen nearby. Jalosjos asked the police chief to apprehend the man, and tried to approach the man in fatigue who ran away.
Guerrero said he is still weighing whether to recommend declaring La Libertad as an area of concern or to place it under the control of the Commission of Elections. – Rappler.com
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