Attacks mark Nueva Ecija ahead of polls

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NUEVA ECIJA: Barely three days before what is expected to be the most peaceful elections in Nueva Ecija in 40 years, the Philippine National Police (PNP) here reported four separate polls-related violence.

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Senior Supt. Manuel Cornel, provincial police director, said the gun firing incidents took place twice in two separate places in Gen. Natividad town, one in Gapan City and in Aliaga town.

No casualties were reported.

Gapan City and Gen. Natividad town are included in the 2016 Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) “hotspots” in the province.

In Gapan, police said unknown suspects strafed the house of Rolando Gonzales, a supporter of mayoralty candidate Emerson Pascual in Barangay San Nicolas early Thursday morning.

It is a three-cornered fight for mayor in Gapan City between Emerson Pascual, incumbent Maricel Natividad (daughter of the late mayor Ernesto Natividad), and Chris Velayo (incumbent vice mayor).

Residents said, they are fed up of violence and they rather wish Velayo win if only to make the city peaceful again.

In Gen. Natividad, gun firing incidents were reported in the villages of Kabulihan, Panacsac and Talabuta.

Barangay Talabutab chieftain Joel Villanueva told the police that unidentified men opened fire at his house at dawn on Thursday. Villanueva is an avid campaigner of mayoral candidate Librado Santos. He said they were awakened by a volley of gunfire and when he checked he found the tarpaulin posters of Santos and his daughter Araceli, running for vice mayor, were peppered with bullets. Eight spent shells of .45 caliber pistol and a letter were found in front of his house which reads: “Itigil ang pagsuporta sa corrupt. Pag di tumigil, patay (Stop supporting corrupt candidates. Or you’re dead)”.

An hour after, gunmen riding a motorcycle sprayed bullets at the house’s steel gate of Panacsac barangay chairman Renato Acosta. Police reported also same incident with village chieftain BenignoVendicacion’s father in law in Barangay Kabulihan who is also a supporter of Santos.

In Aliaga, the house of vegetable vendor Fernando Miranda was shot at by gunman back riding a motorcycle in Sitio Kaingin, Barangay San Juan at around 3:23 a.m. It was not immediately known if the attack was related to the Monday polls.

CELSO M. CAJUCOM

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