4 Nacionalista local bets slain in a week


Posted at Jan 08 2010 09:52 AM | Updated as of Jan 08 2010 05:52 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Nacionalista Party's presidential candidate, Sen. Manny Villar, sees a pattern of "persecution of those wearing NP colors" with 4 of the party's candidates killed in a week, almost 3 months before the 2010 national elections.

"We are just on the seventh day of the new year and we already have lost four of our local candidates to assassinations. Have we become endangered political species?" Villar said in a statement on Thursday.

Villar said retired policeman Julio Esquivias killed last Tuesday was a candidate of the NP for councilor in Casirugan town in Sorsogon province.

Reports said that the retired policeman has been leading local election surveys before he was shot to death 10 times by a motorcycle-riding gunman.

Villar said Esquivias's killing followed the "assassinations" of 3 other NP local members he identified as Cipriano Albores, a former councilman of Barangay Kinangan in Malita, Daval del Sur and organizer of the Manny Villar for President Movement in the province; Wilbert Origines, barangay leaders' president and a the NP's candidate for vice-mayor in Taganaan, Surigao del Norte; and Joen Canete, NP's candidate for councilor in Dingras, Ilocos Norte.

"Because they can't be beaten fair and square they were beaten in a manner most foul. There is no other explanation for their tragic fate other than this: They were killed because they were winning," the senator said.

The senator said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and security forces should act immediately against the election-related killings in hotspot areas.

He added that killing political opponents defeats the purpose of the Comelec's effort to rid election cheating by fully automating the 2010 elections.

"We may be able to modernize the way we vote and count the vote but can we really claim progress if some of us still resort to the Stone Age practice of just bludgeoning the opponent?" Villar said.

The police have identified 14 provinces as election hotspots, including Samar, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguidanao, Basilan, Sulu, Nueva Ecija, Abra, Surigao, Zamboanga Sibugay, Sarangani, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, and Antique.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines said additional troops will be deployed to the hotspots to prevent the anticipated increase in election violence in the next 11 weeks before the May 2010 elections.