Re-electionist vice-mayor in Isabela killed by alleged NPA rebels

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RONALDO Lucas, the reelectionist vice mayor of Jones town in Isabela province, was shot and killed Wednesday by suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) who had blocked his convoy while campaigning in a remote village in his municipality, police reports said Thursday.

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Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, spokesman of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said the vice mayor’s convoy was stopped by around 100 armed men, who introduced themselves as part of the NPA’s “Camus Command” at around 11 a.m. while on their way to Brgys. Sta. Isabel, Dicamay 1 and Dicamay 2.

Quoting official reports from the field, Mayor also said Lucas and his convoy had left their place at around 5 a.m. on Wednesday to bring relief goods and calamity assistance cash to the said villages when they were blocked by armed men, who asked for the group’s permit to campaign. He added that the armed men then seized the group’s cell phones, relief goods, and cash worth around P670,000.

By 11 a.m., the armed men asked the convoy to turn back without Lucas, his two bodyguards and two volunteers. By 1 p.m., Lucas’s driver, who had been asked by the armed men to fetch other members of their convoy who had already arrived in another village, received information that the body of the vice mayor was found beside his vehicle. The body was recovered an hour later and brought to a hospital.

Mayor said that police in Isabela are still investigating the incident, as he declined to say if this was election-related. “We have to wait for the result of the investigation,” he told reporters in a press briefing at Camp Crame.

Prior to Lucas’s killing, the PNP said at least 42 people were killed and 23 others were wounded in at least 65 incidents, which the police have monitored since the start of the election period on Jan. 10. ANTHONY VARGAS

AV/BF

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