First election-related violence in EV

CALBAYOG CITY- In what could be the region’s first election-related violence relative to the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, a candidate for barangay chairman of this city was killed by still unidentified suspects on Thursday (April 26) afternoon.
Killed was Christopher Branzuela, who is running for chairman of their village in Catabunan located within Oquendo District, about 30 kms away from the city proper.
Also killed was Branzuela’s father, Melanio, they were on board a motorcycle when they were waylaid by the armed suspects at about 5:30 pm in an isolated area of Catabunan
Juanito Arneo, who was with the fatalities, survived the gun attack.
Police authorities recovered from the crime scene empty shells of caliber 5.56 rifles.
Supt. Jose Junar Alamo, chief of police of Calbayog City, said that they immediately conducted their hot pursuit operation against the suspects who fled to unknown direction after the incident.
“Hot pursuit is still on-going. We already identified who are the suspects but we cannot reveal their identities as of this time,” Alamo said in an interview.
“We are still conducting a thorough investigation so we cannot just give comment that this is election related,” he added.
The younger Branzuela ran but lost during the 2013 barangay elections.
But for city elections officer Dainty Calagos said that the incident could be considered as election -related for the fact that the victim was a candidate relative to the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan balloting.
“One of the victim is an aspirant for punong barangay, and we are now under election period, and in the coming days campaign period will start. We cannot just dismiss that it is not election-related, it is really election related,” Calagos said.
The incident is the first to happen in Calbayog City days before the upcoming barangay and SK polls.
Calbayog has been into bad light for the past months due to series of killings wherein some of the victims involved village officials.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had placed four villages in the city as areas of concern, namely, are Carayman, Esperanza, Guinbaoyan Norte and San Jose.
But with the latest incident in Brgy. Catabunan, Calagos said that the village might also be placed under the areas of concern.
The Philippine National Police and the Comelec has appealed to the public particularly to the candidates to help and support to ensure peace in the upcoming village elections.