Negros Occidental town buries slain councilor it made topnotcher
NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – Almost week after they voted for him overwhelmingly, residents of Moises Padilla town finally laid to rest the councilor, as well as his uncle, who were both killed in an ambush on April 25.
Some 3,000 residents showed up at San Isidro Labrador Parish on Saturday, May 18, where prayers and a mass were offered to Moises Padilla reelectionist Councilor Michael Garcia, and Marc Garcia, former Liga ng mga Barangay president of the municipality, nephew and brother of Vice Mayor and mayor-elect Ella Garcia Yulo, respectively.
Just five days earlier, during the May 13 elections, voters here handed the slain Michael Garcia, an overwhelming mandate, electing him the number one town councilor. His younger brother Vincent will replace him for the post.
Yulo also won handily in the mayoralty race beating incumbent Mayor Magdaleno Peña.
The residents, mostly senior citizens, cried as they gathered around the coffin of Michael and urn of Marc for the last viewing. Both were killed after the campaign convoy of Yulo was ambushed in the outskirts of Barangay Inolingan on April 25.
She said she believed she was the target of the ambush. Yulo survived after the vehicle carrying her nephew reportedly blocked the gunmen so that she and the others could take cover in the nearby houses.
In his homily, Father Jose Rodel Sampollo called Michael and Marc as martyrs and heroes as they made an ultimate sacrifice for the town. “Because of their love for Moises Padilla, they offered their lives for the good of the town and for peace,” he added.
“We mourn their loss but their deaths freed us from our situation where there is fear,” he said, adding that “because of their love, they saved the last person we believe who can give us a new beginning, a hope of a civilization where there is love, peace, and justice.”
He said because of the deaths of the Garcias, the residents came out and voted. “The result of the election is the voice of the people and at the same time, the cry of the people,” he added.
Sampollo said that the church would continue to pray for Yulo that the Lord would protect her at all times. “We’re on our way to the promised land, but not yet. We have many things to do to have a new form of government where justice and peace will prevail, with all our help,” he said.
Moises Padilla is currently under the control of the Commission on Elections due to the recent election-related violence incidents – the killing of reelectionist Councilor Jolomar Hilario by the New People’s Army on March 31 and the ambush of the campaign convoy of Yulo on April 25.
President Rodrigo Duterte had already assured justice for the victims when he visited the town on May 8.
Marijo Garcia, the wife of Marc Garcia, also called on the residents to help them find the perpetrators so justice can be served.
She said they would give protection to anybody who will come forward that will lead to the arrest of the suspects.
Yulo, for her part, also thanked the residents for mourning with them in this difficult time. “It only shows that the two were sacrificial lambs to free us all. Because of them, we were put under Comelec control and the people were able to vote freely,” she added.
During the funeral, the Garcias were accorded with 21-gun salute. Two chicks were also put in the casket.
Yulo explained that it’s a superstitious belief to knock on the perpetrator’s conscience. “Hopefully, our elders are right,” she added.* – Rappler.com