Two people, including the husband of re-electionist Mayor Ligaya Apura of Lemery, Iloilo, were killed while another person was injured in an ambush Monday morning, police said.
Apura’s husband Jun and a companion identified only as “Espaldon” were rushed to the Sara District Hospital but both expired along the way, Insp. Asension Ortizo, Lemery Police chief, said in a phone interview.
Another companion of the mayor’s husband is still undergoing treatment in the same hospital due to bullet wounds, Ortizo said.
The incident occurred around 9 a.m. while the mayor’s husband and his companions were travelling along the National Highway in Brgy. Anabo, on board an Isuzu Trooper.
The vehicle was heading towards the adjacent town of San Rafael, when several armed men on a silver Ford Everest and a silver Toyota Hi-Lux tailed and opened fire upon it, Ortizo said.
“Sinabayan ‘yung Trooper tapos pinaputukan nung mga armado, ang initial info sa amin ay parang naka-ambush position na ‘yung dalawang sasakyan before that,” he said.
Several empty shells of an M16 Armalite rifle and an M14 Carbine rifle were found at the scene.
A pursuit operation launched by members of the Lemery Police resulted in the arrest of one Mario Cobarubias, who was seen hiding in a nearby sugar cane plantation.
Cobarubias, who is believed to have jumped off from one of the attackers’ vehicles, yielded two hand grenades and an M14 rifle, Ortizo said.
The suspect, a native of the adjacent town of Dumarao, Capiz, has been brought to the Iloilo Police Provincial Office, he said.
Ortizo said he is now coordinating with police in Capiz as the attackers’ vehicles were reportedly seen heading towards that province.
Police are looking at land dispute as the possible motive for the attack, but have not yet ruled out politics.
Apura is seeking re-election under the local party Abyan Ilonggo, which is allied with the United Nationalist Alliance, according to the Commission on Elections’ list of candidates. (John Roson)
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