NE, Isabela councilor bets shot dead

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TWO village chiefs running for town councilor were killed in separate attacks in Nueva Ecija and Isabela on Thursday evening.

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Reports reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP) National Operations Center in Camp Crame identified the victim as Gerald Fermin, a village chief of Barangay San Pascual in Talavera town, and Heinrich Apostol, chief of Barangay San Isidro in the town of Jones.

Apostol’s companion, identified as Jimmy Balmilero, a village chief of Barangay Dicamay Uno, sustained a bullet wound on his right foot from the attack.

Reports said Fermin was shot at close range shortly after midnight on Thursday, after coming from a campaign tour.

Fermin was running under the Liberal Party, and is a political ally of reelectionist Mayor Nerivi Santos Martinez.

Nueva Ecija is one of the nine provinces included in the list of Election Areas of Watch List Concern (EWAC) in the May 9 synchronized elections.

The other provinces placed under EWAC by the PNP are Abra, Lanao del Norte, Pangasinan, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.

The attack on Apostol and Balmilero by unidentified armed men took place a day after suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels killed reelectionist Jones Vice Mayor Ronald Lucas.

Apostol is an ally of Lucas and is running under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
Lucas was killed by alleged communist rebels after detaining him, another councilor and an employee for several hours on Wednesday.

The victim and his group were traveling along Sitio Dinangnang in Barangay Dicamay Uno when stopped by about 100 armed men, who introduced themselves as members of the NPA’s “Camus Command”.

Police said the armed men had asked for the group’s permit to campaign and took their cellphones, relief goods, and cash worth around P670,000.

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