The Philippine National Police said Thursday it will include La Union province in its “election hot spots” following the latest ambush-slaying of Balaoan Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion and the wounding of her daughter Aleli and eight others by still unidentified armed men.
“For obvious reasons La Union will be included in the hot spots during the elections,” PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde said.
He made his statement even as Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday called on the police to focus on the political situation in La Union following the killings of local officials.
“I think they should also address the issue of gun-for-hire groups,” said Lacson who served as police chief under the Estrada administration.
The PNP has already listed La Union in the election watch list, including the provinces of Abra, Masbate, Zamboanga and Lanao del Sur which have been marred by killings apparently linked to the 2019 elections.
A councilor aspirant in Zamboanga, Teomila Nobleza, was planning to file her certificate of candidacy for the 2019 elections when unidentified armed man shot her dead.
In Placer, Masbate, Councilor Antonio de Ocampo, who is also planning to run in the 2019 elections, was killed by armed men while his child was wounded in the attack.
A day after the killing, Albayalde said they hadn’t had any vital information at hand as to the people who could shed light on the shooting incident that also resulted in the death of Concepcion’s security aide, Michael Ulep.
A Special Investigation Task Group has been formed but it has yet to establish the motive for the ambush.
But Albayalde is hoping that Concepcion, who is in stable condition in hospital and under heavy guard, could provide crucial information leading to the identification of the armed behind his ambush.
“Hopefully she [the mayor] could identify the assailants but we have to give her space to recover fully,” Albayalde said.
While putting La Union in the election hot spots, Albayalde, on the other hand, has to wait for the decision of the Commission on Elections as to whether the poll body will put the province under its control.
Albayalde remained clueless as to the circumstances surrounding the ambush, saying the two politicians were not in the drug watch list, but linked the ambush to political rivalry based on previous incidents.
In light of the ambush, some candidates have requested police security.
Meanwhile, Alabayalde said a tracker team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Region 3 had already launched a manhunt against gun-for-hire leader Ricardo Peralta.