ZAMBOANGA CITY – A town mayor in Sarangani province died from heart attack after surviving an ambush, an army spokesman said Saturday.
Mayor George Cho Perrett of Maitum town was driving his car with his wife Elsie Lucille and a maid, when gunmen attacked them in the village of Bugo late Friday, Capt. Alberto Caber, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, said.
He said Perrett and his maid were wounded in the attack, but the mayor eventually succumbed to heart attack at dawn Saturday in hospital in General Santos City.
Caber said the mayor was heading home from a program at the municipal gymnasium when gunmen ambushed him. Recovered from the crime scene were M16 automatic rifle cartridges and a .45-caliber pistol.
Perrett was driving the car and had no bodyguards with him when the ambush occurred, Caber said.
Soldiers from the 27th Infantry Battalion and the local police launched a hunt for the attackers.
“We still don’t know who was behind the ambush,” Caber said.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the ambush, but the province is a known stronghold of the communist New People’s Army.
Just recently, NPA rebels also ambushed Mayor Jaime Mahimpit, of President Roxas town in North Cotabato.
Mahimpit was in a convoy of police and military forces. Three of his police bodyguards – SPO4 Hector Castillo, PO3 Joemer Ilagan and PO2 Joselax Avena – were wounded in the attack.
The NPA, which owned the ambush, said the target of the attack was soldiers and policemen, and not the politician. “The police and army elements were legitimate targets, contrary to reports that Mayor Mahimpit was the object of the punitive action linked to revolutionary tax collection,” NPA spokesperson Isabel Fermiza said.