Ecija gov turns tables on ex-lawmaker

Manny Galvez (The Philippine Star) - August 1, 2015 - 10:00am

CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines – Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, whose name was dragged by a former congressman to the alleged string of politically motivated murders and violent incidents in the province, yesterday said it was the latter who had been involved in political violence.

“These claims dragging my name in political violence came from someone who has been involved in high-profile violent incidents in the past,” Umali said, referring to former fourth district representative Rodolfo Antonino.

Antonino earlier denounced what he described as an upsurge of politically motivated murders and violent incidents in the province, whose victims, he claimed were known opponents of the governor.

He cited 15 shootings that occurred in the province over the past several months, which claimed the lives of his allies and political leaders.  

Antonino will run for governor against Umali’s wife, outgoing third district Rep. Czarina Umali, in 2016.

Umali shrugged off Antonino’s claims.

“In two previous elections, he was  involved in violence,” Umali said, citing incidents after the 1988 and 2007 polls.

He said after losing to Nicanor de Guzman Jr. in the 1988 congressional race, Antonino and his men stormed the latter’s hometown in Gapan City, claiming he was cheated.

He said shortly before the 2007 polls, Antonino’s men assaulted the compound of then congressional rival and now Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos and fired gunshots at his supporters.

Umali said Antonino figured in another incident in the runup to the 2007 polls when the former lawmaker’s security escorts shot it out with a team of former Jaen mayor Antonio Esquivel in Jaen.

Four were killed including a police officer, while 12 others were wounded including two of Esquivel’s sons.

The incident, then considered the bloodiest election-related violence in the country, prompted the Commission on Elections to place the province under its control.   

The governor said President Aquino and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas named him chairman of the regional peace and order council in Central Luzon because he has no known record of involvement in political violence.

ACIRC ANTONINO ANTONIO ESQUIVEL AURELIO UMALI CENTRAL LUZON CZARINA UMALI GAPAN CITY GUZMAN JR. JAEN JOSE GAY PADIERNOS UMALI
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