CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Sniper fire cut short a Christmas party of Misamis Occidental’s politicians in Tangub City, wounding two of the top bets of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP) and the local Team Asenso in the province on Wednesday night, December 22.
Police said former Oroquieta mayor Jason Almonte and Lopez Jaena town Mayor Michael Gutierrez, were wounded and rushed to the hospital.
Almonte is a congressional aspirant in the province’s 1st District while Gutierrez is running for vice governor under the PDP-Laban-Team Asenso ticket led by Deputy Speaker and gubernatorial bet Henry Oaminal, the patriarch of one of Misamis Occidental’s powerful political families.
Police Senior Master Sergeant Deony Dale Alviar said Almonte was hit by a splinter on the nape but Gutierrez was badly hurt – the sniper’s bullet pierced through his temple and exited through his nape.
Gutierrez is struggling for life under intensive care at the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center in Ozamiz City. His family released a statement on his Facebook page, announcing that doctors were done with the surgery around 3 am Thursday, December 23, but disclosed that the mayor suffered severe brain injuries.
Ozamiz City Mayor Sancho Fernando “Ando” Oaminal said the shooting was one of “desperate moves” but did not elaborate. He said his congressman-father Henry, brother Indy, and members of their Misamis Occidental ticket and supporters attended the party.
Alviar said the politicians were partying at a gas station owned by the Oaminals in Sitio Pulao, Barangay VII, Tangub City, when a bullet pierced through the glass door at around 8:45 pm Wednesday.
Fructouso Paredes, an uncle of Almonte, told Rappler his nephew had just finished speaking to his party mates and had taken his seat when the shot was heard.
Paredes said the security aides of the Oaminals quickly put the lights out and covered Almonte and other guests with tablecloths.
The Oaminals have challenged the group of Misamis Occidental Governor Philip Tan, another well-entrenched political family in the province. Tan’s wife Jennifer is the mayor of Tangub City. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship