MANILA – Was the attack on Gingoog Mayor Ruthie Guingona, wife of former vice-president Teofisto Guingona Jr. and mother of Sen. TG Guingona, politically motivated?
Sen. TG Guingona said he cannot say outright that the New People’s Army attack on his mother is related to politics especially since his mother is not running in the May polls.
“That is something we keep asking ourselves. Why us? Why did you do it to us?” he said in an ANC interview.
"It’s also possible [that politics is behind it] because there are a lot of speculations but to say outright that it’s that, I am not too sure. I don’t have the proof to say,” he added.
Guingona said that so far, the only answer given by the NPA on why they attacked his mother is because the mayor’s security aides brought firearms to a rebel-controlled area.
The NPA North Central Mindanao Command earlier owned up to the April 20 attack on the mayor’s convoy, which killed 2 people and wounded Guingona. The NPA apologized for the incident but said it was the mayor’s group that fired first.
In the interview, Guingona said he doubts that the rebel group’s attack on his mother was a case of mistaken identity. He noted that the rebels threw secondhand grenades at his mother's convoy, which fortunately did not explode.
“Let’s just go by the admission of the NPA. First, it’s their fault. They said it is their fault. They take responsibility,” he said.
“My mother has been mayor for 9 years. Everybody knows her vehicle. There is no mistaken identity. Frankly, I don’t know. I really have my doubts on whether it was a checkpoint or it was an ambush. Ako, personally I feel it was an ambush because it follows the modus operandi plus the fact that everybody knew it was her vehicle,” he said.
The senator also questioned the NPA’s claim that Guingona’s group violated the rebels’ policy against bringing firearms through an NPA checkpoint.
“They were saying that it is a violation of their policy. Teka, teka, magklaruhan tayo. There is only one government here in the Philippines and that government is the one headed by the legitimately elected leader, Noynoy Aquino, the only institutions to implement the laws is the Office of the President and institutions under it like the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces,” he said.
“No one else has the right to put up checkpoints. Therefore, those checkpoints are illegal,” he added.
More NPA checkpoints
In a related interview, Mayor Guingona said she cannot think of a reason for the attack by the NPA since she is not running in the midterm elections.
The mayor said she has not received any requests to pay for a permit to campaign although she is supporting the campaign of her daughter. She denied ever paying money to the NPA in her 9 years as mayor.
She also said she even provided livelihood projects to members of the NPA in the past.
She observes the rebels have been manning checkpoints in her city in recent months.
In the interview, the senator said the rebel group should surrender members who were involved in the Gingoog, Misamis Oriental firefight targeting his mother's convoy.
Guingona said surrender will prove that the rebels are sincere in apologizing for the incident.
“I say if you are sincere about your sorry, then surrender them to the folds of the law so they can be tried in accordance with our justice system,” he said.
He also backed the revival of peace negotiations between the government and the NPA, saying that the insurgency has been going on for more than 40 years.
“We should never stop. It is only with the genuine peace agreement that we can end this conflict,” he said.