ZAMBOANGA CITY: Unidentified assailants shot dead an employee of the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office in Jolo town at a time government leaders were working hard to promote peace and tourism in the Muslim province.

Edmiraldo Sollano, 38, was killed while driving home on a motorcycle in Barangay San Raymundo on Thursday. His assailants drove off with Sollano’s motorcycle and disappeared in the dark.

No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the murder and police were investigating the attack. It was unknown why the police and military failed to prevent the attack or strictly guard the capital town despite the extended imposition of martial law in the entire southern Philippines.

Abu Sayyaf bandits had previously attacked Jolo and kidnapped innocent civilians despite the presence of military and police camps in the town. Even the town’s police headquarters are not safe anymore and also attacked in the past.

Police and military checkpoints and patrol were also limited in many towns and by nightfall there is hardly any soldiers and policemen guarding vital government installations in Jolo and nearby areas.

Gov. Toto Tan has repeatedly rallied the mayors in Sulu to work hard in protecting their communities and work harder to lure investors to put up business in Sulu, one of five provinces in the Autonomous Regions in Muslim Mindanao.

Just last week, Tan met with Army Colonel Santiago Enginco, commander of Metro Jolo Inter-Agency Task Group, and Doctor Farah Omar, of the Sulu Integrated Provincial Health Office, and discussed the security situation in Jolo town. He also met separately with Army Major Aunor Balansi and Master Sergeant Anthony Abellera, of the 5th Scout Ranger Battalion.

Tan ordered authorities to impose a tighter security in the town and for the military to help police in maintaining peace and order in the province.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government has removed last year the supervision of the local executives over the police, which relied heavily on the support of local governments in their campaign against criminality.