>> Sunday, June 24, 2007
BY LIAM ANACLETO
SAN MANUEL, Pangasinan -- Police investigators here are trying to establish identity of three gunmen who ambushed and killed the vice mayor of this eastern Pangasinan town who ran for mayor in the recent elections but lost.
This, as police are also hunting killers of the newly elected mayor and vice mayor of Lupao town in Nueva Ecija who were gunned down in a cockpit arena in San Jose City in the province on June 15.
In San Manuel, Vice Mayor Bonie Apilado had alighted from his jeep to look for a pipe repairman when he and his driver, Ricardo Clemente, were fired at by three motorcycle-riding men here past noon on June 20.
Clemente said the perpetrators fired at Apilado who ran away but he was pursued. The gunmen then reportedly pumped more bullets at Apilado.
Senior Supt. Isagani Nerez, provincial police director, said Apilado was shot in the head, while his driver bodyguard was hit in the shoulder.
He said he would form a task force to look into the killing even as relatives of Apilado said politics was the motive in the killing.
The two were rushed to the Sacred Heart Hospital here, where Apilado passed away at around 4 p.m., two hours after the ambush.
Police recovered 12 empty Cal. 45 shells at the crime scene in Barangay San Vicente.
Nerez said he has deployed an augmentation force from the Provincial Mobile Group in San Manuel to defuse tension and avert further violence.
Nerez said investigators were looking at all possible angles, including politics.
In the Lupao, Nueva Ecija case, Chief Supt. Ismael Rafanan, Central Luzon police director, said in Camp Olivas, Pampanga he directed Senior Supt. Alfredo Caballes, officer-in-charge of the Nueva Ecija police, to track down the gunmen and mastermind in the gunslaying of Lupao mayor-elect Virgilio Vendivil.
Rafanan said Caballes formed Task Force Vendivil to gather information from witnesses so perpetrators could be identified.
A number of people were injured as they scampered for safety when the two officials were attacked as they were going to the canteen during an intermission in the cockfight derby.