Samarnons staged an indignation rally in Calbayog City on Tuesday morning, March 23, to condemn the March 8 killing of Mayor Ronaldo Aquino in Barangay Lonoy.
Mayor Aquino, along with his driver Dennis Abayon and security personnel Rodio Sario, were gunned down in their van by men aboard another vehicle. Passerby Gleen John Paul Yauder was also fatally hit. Initially reported as an ambush, police later claimed the incident was a shootout between the mayor’s team and the police.
Locals at the rally held up banners and placards calling for an end to political killings in Calbayog and in other towns of Samar province, while a hearse carried a coffin to symbolize the dead.
The caravan was not able to pass through the grounds of Samar’s Provincial Capitol in Catbalogan because of a road project that had allegedly been started that same morning.
Local Tommy Rosales told Rappler that he believed Mayor Aquino was murdered.
“Wala syang ibang iniisip kundi ang mapaganda at mapalago ang ekonomiya ng Calbayog, and yet why? Sabi ko nga, Lord, why? Why did you allow these evil people [to brutally take] his life?” Rosales said.
(The mayor only ever cared about beautifying Calbayog and boosting its economy, and yet why? I even asked the Lord, why?)
“But am praying na sana mabigyang hustisya ang kanyang pagkamatay (that justice be served with regard to his death),” he added.
Meanwhile, Mark Aquino, eldest son of the late mayor, confirmed that he has been receiving death threats.
“What’s happening is very sad. I particularly feel very vulnerable,” Mark said. “But I will not sit silent.”
The younger Aquino is still searching for an explanation for the killing.
His father is the second mayor of Calbayog City to be murdered while in office in the span of a decade. Reynaldo Uy was also murdered in 2011 during his term as mayor.
Calbayog has earned the moniker “killbayog” for being a city that constantly grappled with violence, especially during election season.
During the 2019 midterm election, at least 4 of Aquino’s supporters were also killed in an ambush in Calbayog.
The NBI have been called in to investigate the murder, but results of the investigation are not yet available. – Rappler.com