Violence against progresive party-list groups continues as the number of their members and supporters killed this year has reached 56 since April 2001. The latest victim was no less than the vice mayor of a town in Pangasinan, 200 kms north of Manila.
BY JHONG DELA CRUZ
Posted by Bulatlat
MAPANDAN, Pangasinan — The second highest municipal official here (200 kms north of Manila) was killed last July 6 and it is not surprising for mainstream media to cover this. An important detail, however, was not highlighted. The murdered official happened to be a member of Bayan Muna (BM or people first) party-list group.
Mapandan Vice Mayor Adolfo Aquino, 56, was shot dead by an unidentified assailant shortly after presiding over the Municipal Council session and talking to some townmates at around 6:35 p.m. Police reports said Aquino sustained seven bullet wounds.
His driver, Victor Villanueva, tried to nab the assailant and was shot on the chest. He died while undergoing a surgery in a hospital in Dagupan City.
According to Michael Morden, Bayan Muna Provincial Coordinator, Aquino is the 56th BM member killed since April 2001 and the 10th this year. He ran and eventually won his second term as vice mayor in the 2004 local election.
“The crime scene is about 30 meters from the police station. A single gunshot should have alerted the police but it took 10 minutes for the police to respond,” said Eden Aquino, the victim’s wife. She said that her husband was set to leave for Los Angeles last July 7 for a family reunion.
Eden also criticized the local police for being slow in their pursuit of the lone assassin. She said that her brother-in-law and her husband’s supporters were the ones who immediately ran after the assailant.
Supt. Edgar Basbas, provincial deputy director and chair of the newly-formed Task Force Aquino, said that details of their investigation would not be disclosed in order not to preempt the investigation. The entire police force was sacked including its chief, Insp. Reynaldo Tamondong, on orders of Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Arturo Lomibao. Tamondong was replaced by Insp. Efren Serenilla.
“His death is the death of democracy in Mapandan. His installation had put a light to a democratic rein in the town which has long been ruled by a powerful political clan,” Morden said.
An initial report of the BM’s fact-finding mission revealed that nights before the incident, an unidentified man asked townsfolk about the exits of the cemetery where, on the day of the killing, the assailant ran to and rode on a motorcycle driven by a companion.
Eden stressed that the killing was purely political. “You ask the townspeople and they know who killed my husband.” Bulatlat