Bukidnon mayor killed in ambush

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/02 July) – The municipal mayor of Impasugong, Bukidnon died a few hours after he was ambushed Wednesday by suspected New People’s Army guerrillas.

An aide said Mayor Mario Okinlay, who was in Barangay Bontongon for the weekly “hatud serbisyo” (service delivery) was attacked by three armed men past 8:00 a.m.

A source at the Malaybalay Polymedic General Hospital said a rescue team brought Okinlay there around 10:00 a.m., and the mayor died 11:23 a.m.

Okinlay and other town officials had been in Bontongon since Tuesday and were scheduled to return to the town proper today.

He had police and military escorts but was driving his motorcycle when the attack occurred.

Reporters were barred from entering the hospital as of 1:45 p.m.

A local official said he saw Okinlay’s body inside a private ward.

Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who went inside Okinlay’s ward, said the mayor died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Zubiri condemned the killing as barbaric and called on authorities to go after the perpetrators.

Police and military operatives were said to be pursuing the perpetrators.

Okinlay was first elected mayor in 1998 and served until 2007. He was replaced by his wife, Julia Okinlay, from 2007-2010. In 2010, he regained his post and was re-elected last year.

Okinlay, a Higaonon, obtained a degree at Xavier University. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)