3 Bacolor village execs killed in ambush

MABALACAT CITY — The village chief of Barangay Mesalipit in Bacolor and two former councilmen were shot and killed in an ambush in Barangay Bundagul Saturday night, reports said.
Mabalacat City police Chief Ferdinand Perez identified the fatalities as barangay chairman Rodrigo Tongol Lopez and his aides Pedro Canlas Sambo and Merlito Pineda Naguit, who are both former councilmen.
The three victims, who were residents of Madapdap Resettlement Center, were gunned down around 8 p.m. the other day in Barangay Bundagul, police said.
Investigators are still validating reports that the killing had something to do with politics, considering the scheduled barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections this October.
The victims were on their way home on board a village service vehicle when the gunmen, riding a motorcycle, assaulted them.
Witnesses said a car was also tailing the victims’ vehicle before the incident.
According to relatives, nobody filed a certificate a candidacy to oppose Lopez for the position in the upcoming polls.
The suspects used .45 caliber pistols in the ambush, according to police.
Tongol was taken to the Tiglao Medical Foundation Center in Barangay San Joaquin, Mabalacat City where he was declared dead on arrival by Dr. Johnny Michael Mangulabnan.
Pineda and Canlas, meanwhile, were taken to the Feliciano Hospital but they were also declared dead on arrival by Dr. Orgie Feliciano.
Pampanga police Director Oscar Albayalde said he has ordered a manhunt operation against the suspects for their possible arrest.
He has ordered the creation of a task force to identify and arrest the suspects behind the killing.
Bacolor Mayor Jomar Hizon condemned the senseless killing of his loyal leaders.
Hizon, in a telephone interview with Sun.Star Pampanga, also appealed to police authorities to identify the suspects and bring them to justice.
He said Lopez was not only a loyal leader, but also a good friend.
Hizon said his senseless killing is a great loss to his constituents, and to the people of Bacolor.
The mayor visited the Lopez family to give his condolences. Aside from giving financial support, Hizon promised the children of Lopez that they will be given scholarship grants to finish their studies.
Hizon, however, said he could not comment as of this time if the killing was election-related.
Hizon also cautioned his barangay chairmen to be extra careful in light of the recent killing. (With Ric Sapnu and Chris Navarro)


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