CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Lopez Jaena town Mayor and Misamis Occidental vice gubernatorial aspirant Michael Gutierrez died on Monday, December 27, in Manila where he was brought after being shot by a sniper during a party before Christmas Day in Tangub City.
His daughter Andrea Pinky Gutierrez confirmed her father’s passing on her Facebook page.
“You will always be our vice governor, Pa. Rest in Peace, I love you very much,” Andrea wrote.
Gutierrez was airlifted to Manila on Christmas eve after undergoing surgery at the Misamis University Medical Center in Ozamiz City.
His family earlier disclosed that Gutierrez suffered a gunshot wound, and the bullet damaged the left and right parts of his brain.
Gutierrez never regained consciousness after the bullet hit his temple and exited his nape.
The town mayor and members of his Team Asenso political group were partying at the Working Coffee Building near a gas station in Sitio Pulao, Barangay VII in Tangub City when the gun attack disrupted their merrymaking on December 22.
Police Senior Master Sergeant Deony Dale Alviar said a lone gunshot was heard while Gutierrez was celebrating Christmas together with local politicians like Misamis Occidental 2nd District Representative and gubernatorial hopeful Henry Oaminal and former Oroquieta City mayor Jason Almonte.
Oaminal and Almonte, a Team Asenso bet for congressman in the 1st District, were slightly wounded due to splinters.
Supporters sent outpourings of sympathy to the Gutierrez family.
“Misamis residents will grieve the loss of a good public servant,” said provincial board member Ruvy Ala.
Gutierrez’s friend Carmelito Heray posted on social media, “You are now in God’s hand kuya Mayor Michael Gutierrez. No more pain, no more suffering.”
Gutierrez was seeking Misamis Occidental’s second top post under the ticket of Oaminal who has challenged the reelection bid of Governor Philip Tan.
The Lopez Jaena mayor was running against Richard Centeno of the National Unity Party (NUP) and Alfredo Conol of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP).
Oaminal condemned the attack as a “desperate and cowardly attempt on our lives” as he claimed the bullet was intended for him.
“The assassin’s bullet barely missed me, with the intention of bereaving my beloved family this Yuletide season,” he said, adding “I only suffered minor wounds.”
Brigadier General Benjamin Acorda, chief of the Philippine National Police in Northern Mindanao, has created a task force to look into the attack and to bring whoever was behind it to justice. –Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.