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Nation

5 hurt as Nueva Ecija poll bets’ aides clash

Ric Sapnu, Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star

CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga, Philippines — Five security personnel of a mayoral candidate were wounded in an alleged shootout with the bodyguards of a reelectionist mayor in Gen. Tinio town in Nueva Ecija on Saturday night.

Following the shootout, police arrested all 24 men involved in the incident that occurred at around 11:30 p.m. in Barangay Concepcion, according to Central Luzon police director Brig. Gen. Matthew Baccay.

The alleged shootout occurred several hours after a similar incident broke out in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, where four supporters of two mayoral candidates were killed.

Nineteen of the arrested men were reportedly security aides of Gen. Tinio Mayor Isidro Pajarillaga, who is seeking reelection, according to Maj. Aileen Stanger, information officer of the Central Luzon police.

Stanger said the five wounded men were reportedly aides of opposition candidate Virgilio Bote.

Responding police officers found the five wounded men in a bullet-riddled vehicle.

Across the vehicle were four armed men believed to be among the bodyguards of Pajarillaga. Nearby were four more bullet-riddled vehicles.

The wounded were brought to the Nueva Ecija Medical Center in San Leonardo town. They were placed under the custody of the police while under treatment for gunshot wounds.

The rest were brought to the police station for questioning.

Police said they seized from Bote’s security aides a shotgun and a .45 caliber pistol.

Probers said Pajarillaga’s security personnel yielded an M16 rifle, shotgun, 15 pistols and ammunition.

Col. Jean Fajardo, spokesperson for the Philippine National Police (PNP), said investigation is ongoing.

The PNP deployed additional forces in the area to ensure honest and orderly elections.

Defused

The PNP said the tension in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur has been defused.

The shootout involved supporters of mayoral candidates Lorry Salvador Jr. and Alrico Favis, husband of the incumbent mayor.

“More police personnel were sent to the area to maintain peace and prevent the situation from further escalating,” Fajardo said.

“According to reports from the Ilocos regional police, arrests have been made in connection with the incident and a thorough investigation is underway,” she added.

Fajardo said the incident was an isolated case as the situation in Ilocos Sur and the Ilocos-Pangasinan region remains peaceful and orderly.

In Ilocos Norte, Gov. Matthew Marcos Manotoc issued an order declaring curfew hours from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Manotoc cited the incident in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur in declaring the curfew.

“A curfew will strengthen the liquor ban imposed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on May 8 and 9,” the order said.

Exempted from the curfew are Comelec-authorized personnel performing official duties, health workers and hospital personnel, government officials, law enforcers, authorized persons outside of residence, and essential establishments such as hospitals, pharmacies and call center companies.

Manotoc directed the police to lead the implementation of the order. – Ramon Efren Lazaro, Eva Visperas

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