Sta Cruz, Laguna: The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Laguna will recommend the inclusion of Calauan town in the election-watch list areas (EWAs) following the attack on its mayor, Buenafrido Berris, and his two companions on Sunday.
Berris, who is running for re-election, was wounded but two of his companions, Leonardo Taningco, his driver and Emmanuel Peña, who was running for councilor, were killed by a lone gunman in Barangay Imok.
Romeo Fortes, Comelec Director in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon) said the ambush came as an opening salvo for the election race in Calauan, which never recorded an election-related violent incident in recent years.
The ambush took place just on the second day of campaigning for local candidates in the May polls.
Police officials have ordered tighter security checks in the second-class municipality as investigators are looking into the motive of the shooting.
Chief Insp. Luis Perez, Calauan police chief, said Berris came from a meeting at the Imok barangay hall and just boarded his service vehicle, a Hyundai Starex van, when the gunman attacked his group.
“They were about to close the van’s door when the gunman fired at them,” he said.
Peña fell off the van while the wounded Taningco managed to drive the vehicle for a few meters before it stopped. Peña and Taningco died on the scene.
Berris was hit in the chest and abdomen and was taken to the hospital. A member of his staff described his condition as “OK” but said he was not yet ready to be interviewed.
On Sunday, police found the alleged getaway vehicle of the gunman, a green Toyota Corolla (PSP 326), which was abandoned in San Pablo CIty.
In 2013, Berris ran and won under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), but he is seeking reelection this year as an independent candidate.
He will face Kingsly Kraft of the Nacionalista Party in the mayoral race.