MANILA (UPDATE) – The mayor of Gonzaga, Cagayan was shot dead during Monday's flag-raising ceremony, the police said.
Cagayan Police said Mayor Carlito Pentecostes Jr. was shot dead by fatigue-wearing assailants at around 8 a.m. in front of the municipal hall.
Pentecostes, who was on his second term as Gonzaga mayor, died on the spot. His two bodyguards were also killed in the shooting incident.
Chief Supt. Miguel Laurel, Philippine National Police Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) director, confirmed earlier allegations that New People's Army (NPA) rebels were behind the attack.
Laurel said this was based on the leaflets left by the attackers at the crime scene. The leaflets showed criticisms against the black sand mining industry in the province.
Municipal hall employees said the mayor was giving a speech when two of the suspects approached and even greeted him before shooting him down.
The two assailants were with other 6 others who had surrounded the town hall.
A firefight immediately ensued but the suspects were quick to withdraw from the scene.
A certain PO3 Agustin from Gonzaga Police said he was inside a patrol car with PO3 Orteza and PO2 Sistoza when some of the suspects pointed their guns at them, according to Chief Supt. Reuben Theodore Sindac, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson.
The suspects tied the three police officers, took their firearms, and used the police car as their getaway vehicle.
PO3 Agustin also quoted one of the suspects, in Ilocano dialect, as saying, ''Pasensiya na kayo sir wala kayong kasalanan, si Mayor lang ang may kasalanan."
Military troops are now working with the Philippine National Police in pursuing the assailants.
Laurel said an administrative investigation may also be launched to determine whether there were lapses on the part of the policemen tasked to protect Pentescotes. - reports from Edwin Sevidal and Rachel Itchon, dzMM; Darlene Gemino, ABS-CBN News Cagayan Valley; and ANC