Duterte warns Negros Occidental mayor: ‘Allow everybody to vote freely’

Marchel P. Espina

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Duterte warns Negros Occidental mayor: ‘Allow everybody to vote freely’


Moises Padilla town in Negros Occidental is under the control of the Commission on Elections in the wake of the killings

NEGROS OCCIDENTAL, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte warned a mayor here, who was the alleged mastermind behind the ambush that killed the brother and nephew of his town’s vice mayor, to allow the electorate to vote freely in the upcoming elections.

During a speech at a campaign rally in Garcia-Hernandez town in Bohol on Wednesday night, May 8, he said he just came from Negros Occidental and “sige lang ang patay (the killings there persist).”

The President was in Moises Padilla town Wednesday afternoon for a command conference with the police and army officials of Western and Central Visayas, and to look into the security measures of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

Moises Padilla town was placed under the control of the Commission on Elections in the wake of the killings.

In a speech at Bohol, Duterte said there’s a certain mayor that’s really the suspect of everybody. “I frankly told him, I told him if you create so much problems for everybody, you might find yourself the ultimate solution.”

The President said he has to “allow everybody to vote freely. This is a democracy. This is an exercise of the right of the people to choose their leader. That is the mandate of the Constitution, so we just follow.”

“In Mindanao, we do not kill enemies and have them ambushed. That is crazy…during my time, we just follow the rules. It’s when you start to break rules that trouble happens,” he said.

He added, “and I issued that warning because he was my supporter, or he was, I really do not know if we’re still friends after talking to him a few hours ago. I made a commitment that the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the police must be neutral, including me. Do not do it or I will be your enemy.”

On April 25, the campaign convoy of Moises Padilla Vice Mayor Ella Garcia-Yulo was ambushed in Barangay Inolingan. She survived the attack but her brother Mark Garcia, former Moises Padilla Liga ng mga Barangay president; and nephew, Councilor Michael Garcia, were killed after they sacrificed their lives so she and the others could take cover in the nearby houses. The assailants finished the two off with gun shots to their heads.

She is challenging Moises Padilla Mayor Magdaleno Peña, who is her uncle, for the mayoral post this May 13 polls.

Yulo also accused the mayor of masterminding the attack, an allegation that was already denied by Peña.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, who also joined Duterte in his visit to Moises Padilla, said the President wanted to see firsthand the situation in the town and in the province as he was alarmed by the subsequent killings. He added the President wants the killngs to stop. 

Año said the investigation is still ongoing, and they will wait for its result.

Meanwhile, Yulo was also able to meet Duterte and that the President assured her justice for her kin.

He also assured the town residents of their safety when they go out and vote on May 13 as it would be the priority of the police and the army, she added.

Michael Garcia was the third councilor to be killed in the province this year. The ambush came 3 weeks after reelectionist Moises Padilla Councilor Jolomar Hilario was killed in his home on March 30 in Barangay Inolingan by the New People’s Army. It also occurred 3 days after Escalante City Councilor Bernardino Patigas was shot dead on April 22. – Rappler.com

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