Negros Occidental town vice mayor wants police chief out

Marchel P. Espina

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Negros Occidental town vice mayor wants police chief out
Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia Yulo, who is running for mayor, says she doesn't trust the town police will be impartial in investigating the ambush that killed her brother and nephew

BACOLOD, Philippines – The vice mayor of Moises Padilla town in Negros Occidental said she wants the town police chief relieved from his post after the subsequent killings in their town.

Vice Mayor Ella Celestina Garcia Yulo, who is still reeling from the death of her brother, Mark Garcia, and nephew, Councilor Michael Garcia, said she doesn’t trust the town police will be impartial in the investigation.

The two were killed in an ambush last Thursday, April 25, after they joined Yulo on the campaign trail in Barangay Inolingan.

Yulo is seeking the mayoral post against her uncle, reelectionist Mayor Magdaleno Peña, in the May elections.

The vice mayor claimed that criminals are hiding in Moises Padilla and police know about this, which is the reason why she wants Captain Junji Liba, town police chief, sacked from his post.

“I have no trust in the town police, even before. Even the residents there, they’re even afraid to go to the police station to record a blotter as the police might plant evidence against them,” she said.

Yulo claimed that cops planted evidence when she and her husband were arrested at a checkpoint in December 2017 for alleged possession of firearms, explosives, and drugs. She was recently released from jail after she and her husband posted bail for the illegal possession of explosives charge against them.

“The investigator there, that’s the one who planted evidence…and now they’re the ones who are investigating us. Lutong makaw (It’s rigged),” she said.

Yulo said she already filed a complaint against the cops before the National Police Commission for the “trumped-up” charges.

Charges filed

At least 30 persons, including a councilor of Moises Padilla, were charged for the ambush that killed the Garcias.

Charges of murder, double murder, and attempted murder, depending on the suspect’s participation, were filed on Friday, April 26, before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office against reelectionist Moises Padilla Councilor Agustin Grande III; Joe Cezar, a member of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team; 5 suspects whose names were not yet released by the police; and 23 John Does.

According to the police, Grande was implicated in the twin murders because he was seen talking to the alleged gunman before the incident, while Cezar was allegedly involved in the planning and provided shelter to the group for a month.

However, the prosecutor ordered the release of Grande from custody due to insufficient evidence for his warrantless arrest. The validity of Cezar’s warrantless arrest was upheld, and he was given 10 days to file his counter-affidavit.

The Joint Provincial Security Control Center has recommended that the Commission on Elections en banc place Moises Padilla under its control following the deadly ambush.

The police and the military have deployed more security forces to the town in the wake of the incident to ensure peaceful and credible elections on May 13.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr and 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez have offered a P2-million reward to anyone who can provide information that would lead to the arrest of the killers.

The ambush came just 3 days after Escalante City Councilor Bernardino Patigas was shot dead on Monday, April 22.

Reelectionist Moises Padilla Councilor Jolomar Hilario was also killed in his home in Barangay Inolingan on March 30 by the New People’s Army. –

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