13 KILLED IN LANAO MAS­SACRE

Manila Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY WIL­LIAM DEPASUPIL RE­PORTER

THIR­TEEN peo­ple were killed and 10 oth­ers were in­jured when a group of armed men opened fire on the con­voy of Mayor Ab­dul Ma­lik Manam­paran of Nu­nun­gan town in Lanao del Sur prov­ince late on Thurs­day. It was so far the dead­li­est at­tack dur­ing the cam­paign sea­son, rem­i­nis­cent of the Maguin­danao mas­sacre in 2009 where 58 peo­ple were mowed down.

The 62-year-old mayor sur­vived but his daugh­ter and grand­daugh­ter were among those killed.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Lucero, com­man­der of the First In­fantry Di­vi­sion, on Fri­day said Manam­paran’s three-ve­hi­cle con­voy was am­bushed in Barangay Malaig, Nu­nun­gan.

The at­tack­ers opened fire on a truck car­ry­ing the mayor and his sup­port­ers.

Govern­ment troops who rushed to the am­bush site brought the in­jured mayor to the Iligan City Mercy Hos­pi­tal. The mayor suf­fered shrap­nel wounds on the head but doc­tors de­clared him sta­ble and out of dan­ger.

“Mayor Manam­paran and his fol­low­ers had just come from a po­lit­i­cal rally and were on their way to Barangay Pobla­cion when the in­ci­dent hap­pened,” Lucero said.

“They killed my grand­daugh­ter,” he told Agence France-Presse from his hos­pi­tal bed.

Manam­paran is on his third and last term as mayor. He is run­ning as vicemayor while his son and name­sake is seek­ing the town’s high­est post. The fam­ily is run­ning against can­di­dates backed by Pres­i­dent Benigno Aquino’s Lib­eral Party.

-The mayor told AFP he had a good idea who was re­spon­si­ble for the at­tack, but de­clined to dis­cuss his sus­pi­cions.

Se­nior Supt. Ger­ardo Ros­ales, the provin­cial po­lice chief, said in­ves­ti­ga­tors are check­ing the in­volve­ment of cer­tain clans which had had pre­vi­ous scraps with the Manam­paran fam­ily.

“They (sur­vivors) iden­ti­fied the at­tack­ers last night, they gave us names . . . They

told us it was a fam­ily feud,” Ros­ales told re­porters.

Lo­cal mil­i­tary com­man­der Col. Ri­cardo Jalad said the am­bush was the first big in­ci­dent of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence in Nu­nun­gan in the past year.

How­ever, he said Nu­nun­gan and nearby pre­dom­i­nantly Mus­lim ar­eas of Min­danao were blighted by oc­ca­sional killings linked to decades-old clan wars.

Mem­bers of the Lanao del Norte Provin­cial Po­lice and troops of the 35th In­fantry Bat­tal­ion con­ducted pur­suit op­er­a­tions against the group of armed men that staged the am­bush.

Mala­canang said au­thor­i­ties are try­ing to iden­ti­ties of the mayor’s at­tack­ers.

“We strongly con­demn this act of vi­o­lence,” pres­i­den­tial deputy spokesman Abi­gail Valte told re­porters in Manila.

“We ap­peal to the sup­port­ers of the dif­fer­ent can­di­dates to keep calm and con­tinue to cam­paign for their par­tic­u­lar can­di­dates,” she added.

The at­tack on Manam­paran’s con­voy oc­curred six days af­ter New Peo­ple’s Army rebels am­bushed the four-ve­hi­cle con­voy of Gin­goog Mayor Ruthie Guing­ona, mother of Se­na­tor Te­ofisto “TG” Guing­ona 3rd and wife of for­mer vice pres­i­dent Te­ofisto Guig­ona. The mayor’s driver and body­guard were killed.

A run­ning po­lice tally lists 30 deaths from 45 other vi­o­lent in­ci­dents re­ported since the start of the cam­paign in Fe­bru­ary.

In Novem­ber 2009, mem­bers of a pow­er­ful clan on Min­danao ab­ducted and mur­dered 58 peo­ple in­clud­ing rel­a­tives of a lo­cal ri­val who was plan­ning to chal­lenge the clan leader in gu­berna- to­rial elec­tions the fol­low­ing year.

Min­danao is also wracked by in­sur­gen­cies waged by Mus­lim and com­mu­nist rebels, and of­fi­cials say that some of this year’s elec­tion vi­o­lence has been com­mit­ted by com­mu­nist guer­ril­las ex­tort­ing money from can­di­dates.

More than 18,000 posts are at stake in the bal­lot­ing, from town may­ors and gov­er­nors to mem­bers of par­lia­ment.

Lo­cal press re­ports on Fri­day said two elec­tion cam­paign­ers in a prov­ince near Manila were killed and an­other wounded in an am­bush Thurs­day, while a dis­trict of­fi­cial was killed on the same day in a bomb blast else­where on Min­danao.

National po­lice spokesman Chief Supt. Gen­eroso Cerbo said both at­tacks are be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

AFP PHOTO

Mayor Ab­dul Ma­lik Manam­paran re­cu­per­ates at a hos­pi­tal in Iligan City.

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