Malita is “back to normal”

Vice Mayor Allan G. Colina said justice has not been served yet for the victims "but the case is now in the courts" for resolution.

He said the situation in the town has “normalized already” because the violence was “purely political and nothing personal.” He said it wasn't easy when the town gained prominence as the municipality with a mayoralty bet and hiss on gunned down, but added they are moving on.

“We are now back to normal," he said, citing the pullout of the police's Regional Mobile Group and the appointment of the town's new  chief of police as among the indicators.

Colina was here Friday to promote the town's cardava banana. He headed the 410-member Malita Banana Growers Association pushing for more attention on the potential of cardava among marginalized farmers.

The Sarmientos were shot near their house two days after the May 14 elections. The suspects are former Congressman Claude Bautista and his bodyguards, who reportedly accosted the Sarmientos over the election returns the latter were holding.

Sarmiento's opponent, Benjamin Bautista, won the mayoralty race.

The Philippine National Police has formed Task Force Sarmiento to investigate the slaying and the Department of Justice (DOJ) also formed a panel of state prosecutors against former Rep. Bautista and his bodyguards after the family of the Sarmientos requested the case to be handled by the DOJ in Manila claiming threats to life of their witnesses.  (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)