Higher authorities, particularly the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), must act now to avert any more political bloodshed in Balaoan town, La Union.
The local police proved helpless in curbing a spate of violence where the family and supporters of incumbent Mayor Aleli Concepcion have been the target of hired goons.
It will be recalled that the mayor’s father, incumbent Vice Mayor Al-Fred Concepcion, was killed along with a bodyguard in an ambush where Aleli and several others were also wounded last November 14.
Malacañang condemned the Vice Mayor’s slaying and directed the PNP to solve the case, but which now remains unfulfilled. The Concepcions belong to the administration’s PDP-Laban party.
The latest attack took place on Holy Wednesday when a motorcycle-riding tandem riddled with bullets the house of a relative and staunch supporter of Aleli.
After the assailants fled the scene, a CCTV footage retrieved by the Aleli’s camp showed the suspects coming out of the house of the mayor’s rival candidate, retired police general Pedro Obaldo Jr. minutes before the shooting.
The mayor immediately brought the video to P/Sr. Insp. Juanito Buaron Jr., the local police officer-in-charge, to and press charges against Obaldo and his alleged goons.
But lo and behold, Buaron did not lift a finger and even refused to invite Obaldo for questioning.
In an interview with Radyo Pilipinas, the police captain said the shooting incident could not be considered politically motivated because the suspects have not been positively identified despite a video showing them coming from the house of the rival candidate of the incumbent mayor.
Buaron added that the target of the shooting, Fernando Uy, himself is not running for any political office. Thus, the incident cannot be considered politically motivated. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure that out when Uy is in fact the mayor’s relative and staunch supporter?
Last March, the house of Barangay Bulbulan chairman Aristedes Marion, another strong supporter of the Concepcion family, was peppered with bullets believed to be by the same gunmen. Buaron said the case is “still under investigation.”
The Balaoan Police officer-in-charge became speechless when asked to comment on a video posted on social media showing Obaldo’s bodyguards carrying long firearms during his campaign sorties.
It’s clear, Buaron does not have his OIC job cut out for him. He also looks too scared of the hired goons in La Union, who roam freely in his area of responsibility.
In fairness, Radyo Pilipinas interviewed retired police general Obaldo, who readily denied all the allegations against him. He did not, however, comment on the footages showing armed men coming in and out of his house, and the armed riding in tandem firing at Uy’s house.
It's disheartening lawlessness that prevails in this scenic first-class municipality, just an hour’s drive from San Fernando City, La Union.