By Francis Wakefield
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Police Director General Oscar D. Albayalde Wednesday condemned the violent attack on Mayor Lakambini “Neneth” Reluya of San Fernando, Cebu in Talisay City on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, Albayalde also extended his deepest sympathy to Mayor Reluya for the unfortunate incident that claimed the life of her husband Ricardo Jr., and companions Allan Bayot, the couple’s driver; and Ricky Monterona, local economic investments and promotions officer of San Fernando town.
Consistent with their 8-point supplemental SIDEPLAN for the May 2019 midterm elections security operations, Albayalde said he has given instructions to the Regional Director of Police Regional Office 7 (PRO7), Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, to provide round the clock security to Mayor Reluya, Giovani Perez and Tolentin Jefer while they undergo treatment at a local hospital due to gunshot wounds suffered in the attack.
Albayalde also said the National Headquarters, through the concerned National Support Units, is supporting the Special Investigation Task Group created by PRO7 to synchronize all investigative efforts by different PNP units to piece together the circumstances surrounding the incident and to identify and prosecute the perpetrators.
“While it is premature to make early conclusions at this point, our actions will be guided by available facts and evidence at hand, and others that may be obtained later in the course of the investigation,” Albayalde said.
“I am confident that in due time, we will achieve a breakthrough in our investigation under the same investigative framework that we applied in similar cases of violence against elective government officials,” he added.
Supt. Marlu Conag, Talisay City police chief, earlier said the mayor and her companions were onboard a white van going towards Cebu City when their vehicle was sprayed with bullets at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Three unidentified men aboard a white sedan reportedly fired at them from the left side of the vehicle.
Conag said they are still trying to determine who is behind the ambush slay.
But some sectors believe the ambush may have been politically motivated.
Reluya is seeking re-election in the May midterm elections against businessman Ruben Feliciano for the town’s mayoral seat.
Reluya and Feliciano have been at odds with one another ever since the former issued an executive order stopping the latter from implementing his proposed international port in the town.
The mayor’s husband, Ricardo, who is currently the town’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) president, is also running for vice mayor under her slate.
Reluya is the fourth official from San Fernando to be ambushed by unidentified assailants.
Last year, San Fernando councilor Alexander Alicaway was killed in an ambush by unidentified assailants while walking towards the town hall. His death remains unsolved until now.
Earlier this month, incumbent town councilor Reneboy Dacalos was shot dead by unidentified men while sitting at his brother-in-law’s store.
Two weeks later, former ABC president and aspiring town councilor Johnny Arriesgado was also ambushed and killed by unidentified men.
The deaths of Dacalos and Arriesgado were allegedly due to suspicions that they were involved in illegal drugs.