Sarangani mayor dies after ambush

Edwin G. Espejo

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George McPerson Perett, youngest son of an American Thomasite who settled in PH after the Fil-Am war, is the second sitting Maitum mayor killed over the last decade

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Maitum Mayor George McPerson Perrett died several hours after an ambush by still unknown gunmen while on his way home Friday evening, February 28, from a village festivities, reports said.

Perrett sustained a lone gunshot wound in the leg but died of cardiac arrest due to severe loss of blood at the St. Elizabeth Hospital in General Santos City.

His wife Elsie Ruge Perett, also former mayor of Maitum, told her nephew that she and her husband and his secretary were driving home at past 9 pm Friday when they heard exploding firecrackers and later a burst of gunfire.

The mayor told her that he was hit but managed to still drive to a nearby military detachment after which he was rushed to a clinic for first aid.

At the time of the ambush, the mayor did not have his security details and was the one driving the car.

Reports said the wound continued to bleed prompting his wife and son Gary to bring the mayor to the hospital in General Santos City where he was admitted.

His wife said the mayor was in stable condition when brought the hospital, but his condition deteriorated after continuous bleeding and sudden drop in blood pressure.

He was declared dead at around 2:30 am.

Police said no suspects had been arrested and the authorities did not know if the attack was politically motivated.

Perrett was a political ally of global boxing icon and Philippine legislator Manny Pacquiao, who urged the police to bring the unknown suspects to justice.

“We are saddened by this very unfortunate incident. I urge our law enforces to expedite the investigation of the case and do everything to identify and arrest those responsible,” Pacquiao told reporters.

Perrett is the youngest son of Walter K. Perrett, an American banker who was among the first group of Thomasites that were sent to the Philippines after the Filipino-American war. His mother is a Thailander. Perrett was born in Maitum and opted to become a Filipino citizen.

Walter K. Perrett arrived in Maitum in 1918 after a brief stay in Ilocos. He was executed by the Japanese occupational forces in Kiamba during the war. Maitum was formerly part of Kiamba.

Mayor Perrett left behind his wife and sons Gary and Michael. Michael is in the US.

FILIPINO CITIZEN. In this file photo, Maitum Mayor George McPerson Perrett distributes PhilHealth cards during an event. File photo from the Sarangani Provincial Office

Maitum: Violence-prone

Perett is the second sitting Maitum mayor killed over the last decade and the third over the same period.

In November 2006, Mayor George Yabes was assassinated at the public market also in Maitum. He was replaced by his vice mayor Felix Reganit who himself was later gunned down in Tondo, Manila after losing the elections to Elsie Perett in 2007.

Last year, the slain mayor ran for office after his wife decided to retire from politics.

Maitum is one of the violence-prone towns of Sarangani. Perrett ran under the People’s Champ Movement of Rep Manny Pacquiao.

Alan Perett Palileo, then barangay chairman of Kalaong in Maitum, was also slain in the third attempt on his life. Palieleo was nephew of Mayor Perrett.

Exuperio Gaabucayan, a former Philippine Army captain who was appointed OIC mayor in 1986, was also killed by assassins.

Maitum is the last western town of Sarangani and is neighboring town of Palimbang in Sultan Kudarat. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/

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