Land-related conflict blamed for shooting of Pacquiao aide

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/05 January) – Police investigators in South Cotabato are closely looking at a land-related conflict as behind the daring shooting of a liaison officer of Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 12 office in Koronadal City late Tuesday afternoon.

Supt. Anecito Ambay, Koronadal City police chief, said Wednesday victim Abdulwahid Diaman Bualan, had just emerged from the DENR-12 regional compound along Aurora Street in Koronadal City at around 5:35 pm Tuesday when he was shot by an unidentified motorcycle-riding gunman.

The victim, who is a resident of Barangay Tambler here, sustained a lone gunshot wound in his right shoulder from a caliber .45 handgun and is currently recuperating in a tightly-guarded room at a private hospital here.

Ambay said Bualan, along with several companions, visited the DENR regional office Tuesday afternoon to follow up the ongoing processing of a title for an estate owned by Pacquiao.

“It appears that the shooting was related to his transactions (at the DENR regional office),” he said without further elaborating.

Citing accounts from several witnesses, Ambay said an unidentified attacker approached and shot the victim as he came out of the DENR compound.

The initial shot reportedly missed the victim due to a gun malfunction and the second attempt only hit the victim’s shoulder as he was able to ward off the gunman’s arm.

Ambay said the assailant immediately left the scene aboard a red Honda XRM motorcycle driven by another unidentified man.

But after several meters, the gunman reportedly transferred to an Isuzu Crosswind van that immediately sped away toward an unknown direction.

“We’re now working on the identity of the suspects, who appears familiar with the victim and his companions,” the police official said.

The Pacquiao camp has yet to issue an official statement regarding the incident but the Sarangani lawmaker immediately sought help from the Philippine National Police for the victim’s security.

Bualan is acting as a liaison officer of Pacquiao and has been handling the titling of several estates acquired by the congressman and his family.

The victim gained prominence last year after blowing the whistle on an alleged irregularity involving personnel from the DENR, which supposedly issued an erroneous title for a land acquired by Pacquiao in Sitio Balsinang in Barangay Olympog here.

Bualan earlier revealed that the supposed title issued by the DENR for the Olympog property carried descriptions for another property located in Sultan Kudarat province.

The Manny Pacquiao Heights Development Corp. earlier purchased a 400-hectare property in Barangay Olympog for the development of a P1.217-billion special economic zone project. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)