Barira vice mayor Tomawis killed in Davao City residence

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/28 November) -  Vice mayor Alexander Tomawis of Barira, Maguindanao was gunned down in front of his residence here shortly before noon Sunday by two teenagers who brought documents purportedly for signing, the chief of police here said.

Sr. Supt. Rene Aspera said Tomawis was “shot in the head with the use of handgun.”  Eight empty shells from a caliber 9 mm pistol were found at the crime scene at Hill Drive St., beside the Heritage Church in Kilometer 5, Buhangin.

Tomawis was rushed to the Davao Doctors Hospital in the downtown area where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Aspera said initial police reports indicated that the teenagers arrived at Tomawis’ residence at around 10:45 a.m. and “pretended to let the victim sign a document.”

He said the suspects fled on board a motorcycle, heading towards Bajada.

Fr. Eliseo Mercado, Jr., executive director of the Cotabato-based Institute of Autonomy and Governance (IAG) said the killing of Tomawis is “definitely political.”

“He collided with powerful political clan and military leadership in the area. He knew of the threats so he was in Davao for a cooling period, believing Davao was a safe city,” Mercado said.

Mercado’s IAG has been facilitating strategic planning sessions of the Iranun Development Council,  a brainchild of then mayor Tomawis.

The IDC is composed of the towns of Barira, Buldon, Parang, Matanog and Datu Blah Sinsuat, all in the northern portion of Maguindanao province.

The IDC recently launched IRA or Iranun Rescue Assistance 511, an emergency response unit to serve the people of the five contiguous municipalities.

“Anyone who needs emergency assistance in times of calamities, fire, medical attention, peace and order problem, among others, can dial 511 and our rescue teams will be there,” Tomawis, IDC chair, said during its launch in August.

During the barangay elections on October 25, Tomawis was held under “restricted custody” by elements of the 603rd Infantry Brigade after allegedly commandeering election paraphernalia in favor of his and her wife’s town in Buldon. He denied allegations he was rigging the vote.

“The Iranun people lost a modern day leader,” Mussolini Lidasan of Aksyon Mindanao told MindaNews.

“We are related by affinity. On behalf of the Lidasan clan, we hope and pray that the authorities will be able to solve the killing of Vice Mayor Tomawis as soon as possible to avoid any rido in the Iranun towns,” he said.

Tomawis served as mayor for three terms from 2001 to 2010. His mother, Rocaya Dagalangit Tomawis, is now mayor of Barira while his wife, Fatima Ruth Aratuc Tomawis is mayor of neighboring Buldon town. (MindaNews)