MANILA - Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot said Wednesday that the botched assassination attempt on him and his family on the eve of the May 14 village polls should be considered election-related.
This comes after the Philippine National Police announced that it does not see any link between the attack and the elections.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Loot noted that 17 of the candidates he endorsed won Monday's polls.
“It’s obvious na ang barangay election, may pinapaboran tayo, may sinusuportahan tayo eh. It (ambush) happened the day before election ng barangay at malaking bagay kung may mangyari sa akin,” Loot said.
(It's obvious that it's related to the barangay elections, there were candidates we favored, supported. It happened the day before the barangay elections and would have made an impact if something had happened to me.)
Loot, his wife, former Vice Mayor Malou Loot, son Board Member Shun Simora and other family members were disembarking from a pump boat at the Daanbatayan's wharf on Sunday when 3 armed men fired at them.
The mayor, a former police general who was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as a protector of drug rings, was left unscathed in the attack but his 2 drivers, helper, and a wharf porter were injured.
Loot claimed his political enemies planned the attack to dishearten the candidates he supported.
“Dahil walang nangyari, it turned out to be helpful to my candidates. Kase out of 20 barangays, 17 yung napanalunan ng mga tao ko. Kung may nangyari sa akin, sigurado ako, ang mga tao ko na 17, mawala yon,” he said.
(Because nothing happened, it turned out to be helpful to my candidates. Out of 20 barangays, my people won in 17 villages. Had something happened to be, I'm sure my 17 people would have been gone.)
“Posibleng hindi na lalabas, hindi na gaganahan pa. Sino pang gaganahan kung wala ka nang leader?,” he added.
(They may not have come out or may have been discouraged. Who would have been encouraged to fight if you no longer have a leader.)
Loot said his political rivals conspired to take him down after a group of online "trolls" threatened him on Facebook.
“There’s a Facebook group na composed of trollers na identified with my opponents na parating nagsasabi in advance as to what will happen to me,” Loot explained.
(There's a Facebook group composed of trolls identified with my opponents who would always say in advance what will happen to me.)
"The first was when the President mentioned my name and the statements mentioned by the President na-trace natin na galing sa kanila."
(The first was when the President mentioned my name and the statements mentioned by the President, which we traced were from them.)
A few days before Sunday's ambush, Loot said he received death threats posted on this Facebook account.
“Before this happened last Sunday, may mga statements sila doon sa page nila na 'malapit na raw', 'ilang days na lang, gipuso na ako', and 'may mangyayari na sa akin'. And it happened no? Except na hindi lang ako naligpit,” Loot said.
(There were statements on their page, saying 'it's almost time,' 'I will die in a few days,' and 'something will happen to me. And it happened, right? Except that I was not killed.)
When he survived the attack, Loot said another comment was posted on this Facebook account, accusing him of staging the attack.
Loot said he did not want to speculate whether or not he was targeted because he Duterte accused him of involvement in the narcotics trade.
He also said he was a victim of influence peddling.
Loot noted that he has been cleared of ties to the drug trade by the police Criminal Investigation and Detection Group because the properties declared in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth belonged to his wife even before they were married.
Loot said he has also urged investigators to look into the possibility that an active policeman with a personal grudge against him was behind the assassination attempt.
Loot and his family were given additional security after the botched gun attacks.
"I’m very appreciative of the gestures. Hindi ako sanay pero (I'm not used to it but) now I know that I need security. I thought for a while I don’t have any risks,” Loot said.
Loot said he hopes that his name will soon be cleared of the alleged drug ties.
He said he was no longer a cop in Eastern Visayas during the time that alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa claimed he gave bribes to Loot.
Loot added that he could not have given protection to alleged criminals because he held an administrative post with only 4 personnel reporting to him.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Batch 1982, to which Loot belongs, wrote to the national police, urging an investigation of the ambush try.
National police chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde meanwhile urged the mayor to coordinate with investigators.