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‘Justice for Guerra!’

- Eva Visperas () - June 30, 2003 - 12:00am
TAYUG, Pangasinan — The cry for justice for this town’s slain mayor grows louder.

"Let us give him justice," pleaded Karlos Guerrero Bernabe, a grandson of slain Mayor Guerrero Zaragoza during the necrological service before his lolo was buried yesterday.

"Those who murdered him could not play fairly that’s why they killed him," he added.

Supporters of the elder Zaragoza — fondly called "Guerra" — joined the funeral procession, carrying streamers with the words "Katarungan para kay Mayor Zaragoza" and yellow ribbons pinned on their clothes (yellow was the slain mayor’s favorite color).

Policemen brandishing long firearms were deployed in various areas of this town, proof that the police have remained on alert following Zaragoza’s murder.

The mayor was gunned down before dawn of June 22 as he stepped out of the Tayug Coliseum after a cock derby.

The cockpit caretaker was also killed, and seven others, including one of Zaragoza’s bodyguards, were wounded in the attack.

A day after the killing, unidentified men strafed the municipal hall.

Chief Inspector Raymund Gilbert Luzano, this town’s police chief, will be relieved from his post anytime this week after completing his two-year tour of duty, according to Senior Superintendent Mario Sandiego, the new provincial police director.

Sandiego said the move is also meant to give Carlos Trece Mapili, who has taken over as Tayug mayor, the discretion to choose the new police chief.

Mapili, who belongs to the Nationalist People’s Coalition, took his oath of office last Tuesday and will formally sit as mayor today.

Mapili said he himself fears for his life. In fact, he has requested for two police bodyguards.

Communist rebels were earlier tagged as behind Zaragoza’s assassination, but police probers are not discounting the political angle.

"I am giving them a free hand in the investigation," said Mapili, while dismissing as "rumors" reports that Zaragoza’s political rival, former vice mayor Marius Ladio, has gone into hiding and has joined the New People’s Army.

"I don’t believe that," Mapili said.

When Ladio succeeded Zaragoza as mayor, he filed a string of cases against the former. Zaragoza did the same against Ladio when he got elected again.

Zaragoza served as mayor from 1986 to 1998, and was again elected in 2001.

Former governor Rafael Colet recalled that a few days before Zaragoza was slain, the mayor went to his house with many bodyguards.

"He was apologetic and said he needed them," Colet said.

The former governor said Zaragoza’s "quick temper, his even quicker tongue, his devil-may-care attitude were superficial because he was trying to hide his qualities as a true person. These could have been the imperfections that God gave him." — With Cesar Ramirez

CARLOS TRECE MAPILI CHIEF INSPECTOR RAYMUND GILBERT LUZANO KARLOS GUERRERO BERNABE MAPILI MARIUS LADIO MAYOR MAYOR GUERRERO ZARAGOZA MAYOR ZARAGOZA NATIONALIST PEOPLE ZARAGOZA
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