Ernie Tatoy, 41, was gunned down in front of his wife and their daughter while sitting in his porch in Purok 7, barangay (village) Linoan at around 9 a.m.
But police officials here were quick to say the murder may not be election-related even if the victim was a known village coordinator of gubernatorial candidate Arturo “Chiongkee” Uy.
Police Inspector Werenfredo Regidor Jr, Montevista police chief, said the killing could be the handiwork of hitmen from the communist New People’s Army (NPA) claiming Tatoy used to work for the police as an informant and the rebels might have executed him.
Three men wearing shirts and jeans casually walked to the victim’s place and asked the victim, who was in the porch with his wife Precy, 38 and their 13-year old child Angie Rose, if they can post campaign paraphernalia on the house’s walls.
The victim gave permission and one of the men went over towards the back of the house and inquired if there were any more houses beyond the rows of cornfields behind the house, Precy narrated.
Shots then rang out and she saw her husband slumped to the floor, Precy said.
She said she picked Angie Rose who was bloodied after being hit by stray bullets, and ran out of the house.
Tatoy was able to get up after the initial gunshots and tried to escape through the living room but the assailant followed and finished him off.
They then fled on foot across the corn field behind the house.
Precy told reporters she was deeply shocked and could not believe watching her husband killed in front of her.
Relatives and neighbors came and took the wounded child and rushed her to Davao Regional Hospital (DRH) in Tagum City for treatment of gunshot wounds in the feet.
Tatoy died from gunshot wounds in the head and body.
Regidor said one of the suspects acted as the lookout while the others killed the victim, a strategy, he said, that is generally practiced by the rebels’ Special Partisan Unit (Sparu) liquidation squad in carrying out killings.
He said elements from the Army’s 60th Infantry Battalion immediately responded to help pursue the suspects.
Police said investigation into the killing is underway but Regidor said he could not yet consider it politically-motivated.
“We are still looking into some other angles other than politics. Since he was a former asset, we assume the NPA might have a hand on this. Investigation is now ongoing, so we just wait for the result,” he said.
But Uy was convinced Tatoy, who was an electronic technician, was killed because of politics.
Uy, an incumbent board member who is running for governor against fellow board member Kristine Mae Caballero, the daughter of ComVal Governor Jose Caballero, vowed to put “an end to all of these killings”
“Talagang political killing ang nangyari (What has happened was really a political killing),” Uy said.
He urged the provincial police force under Senior Superintendent Nestor Quinsay Jr. to solve the murder and “not wait for people to spit at the police for becoming a complete failure.”
Nanging Ongkal, a supporter of Rep. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora, was gunned down while in the town’s cockpit arena on the eve of the town fiesta.
According to police, the two murders brought the number of election-related province in district 1 to seven, five of them in Monkayo town.
Two other candidates are also gunning for Zamora’s post — Mt. Diwalwal village chief Francisco “Franco” Tito and Joselito “Lito” Brillantes, the businessman brother of the late Monkayo Mayor Manuel Brillantes Jr