Slain Barira vice mayor received threats before his death

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/2 Dec) – The late Barira vice mayor Alexander Tomawis, who was killed by gunmen in his apartment here last Sunday, received threats to his life days and weeks before he was killed, the Task Group Tomawis said.

Supt. Pedro Cabatingan, chief of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) designated to head Task Group Tomawis, said they learned about the threats from Tomawis’ brother PO1 Harrod Tomawis.

“We’ve been closely coordinating with PO1 Harrod Tomawis,” Cabatingan said. “He revealed that he was aware of increasing threats to his brother’s life (before he was killed). He did not disclose from where.”

Cabatingan said that the Task Group is also looking into the case filed by the late vice mayor against the newly appointed commander of the 603rd Infantry Brigade, Brig. Gen. Ernesto Aradanas, and two of his men as among the possible angles that could have led to the killing. The 603IB is based in Barira.

Two days before he was killed, on Nov. 26, Tomawis filed cases of grave misconduct and grave abuse of authority at the Ombudsman against Aradanas, Maj. Mahainien Sangki and 1st Lt. Manago Macalintangui.

On Nov. 5, he filed cases of illegal detention and election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code against Aradanas.

Aradanas had told MindaNews earlier that the accusations were baseless and that the 603IB held Tomawis in “restricted custody” when he tried to interfere in the last barangay elections in Buldon town of Maguindanao.

“We are looking both at the political and personal angles,” said Cabatingan.

He said Tomawis was also a “prime mover” of the Iranun Development Council, a group wanting to extend the influence of the Iranun ethnic tribe in Maguindanao, which could have earned him political enemies.

Supt. Querubin Manalang, spokesperson of Police Regional Office-11, said that investigators are currently “cross matching” the slugs and shells found in the scene of the Tomawis killing with those found in the previous killings in Maguindanao. But he said it will take time for them to get the results.

“There was an impression that Tomawis could have known the gunman who killed him and that the killers had pretended to hand him some documents to sign before he was killed but we are still trying to verify every piece of information that we got,” Cabatingan said.

Police released the computer-generated composite sketch of the suspect based on witnesses’ testimonies Wednesday.

According to witnesses, one of the gunmen was male, about 40 to 45 years old, 5’7″ or 5’8″ in height and weighs about 60 to 65 kilos.

Col. Rey Guerrero, commander of the Task Force Davao, said they are following orders of Mayor Sara Duterte to give security assistance to personalities and political leaders who are in Davao City for a visit.

“But not until he was killed, we never knew that Vice Mayor Tomawis had an apartment in Davao City,” said Davao City police chief Rene Aspera. “At the detachment, there was no record of the entry of Tomawis, nor of armed men, in Davao City.” (Germelina Lacorte / MindaNews)