COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 13 Apr) – A mayoralty candidate in South Upi, Maguindanao survived an assassination attempt while three of his companions were wounded as a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) planted along the road went off as they were passing by.
The convoy of incumbent Vice Mayor Remy Sioson, who is PDP-Laban’s mayoralty candidate in South Upi, was passing through Sitio Bolo in Barangay Pandan around 3 p.m. when the bomb exploded, just a few minutes after they left the nearby village of Kigan from a campaign sortie, his supporters said.
Conchita Quinlat, campaign staff of Sioson, said a security escort of the vice mayor was immediately rushed to a hospital in Cotabato City due to severe inflicted wounds.
Two others were reported hurt, according to a police report.
“We are glad he (Sioson) survived the bombing unscathed. He is now safe and sound,” Quinlat said.
Supt. Jibin Bongcayao, spokesperson of Maguindanao police, confirmed that an IED fashioned after a 60mm mortar triggered by a two-way radio hit Sioson’s convoy.
He identified the wounded victims as Michael Bibawco, 30; Joveto Vinancio, 35; and Romel Sioson, 35.
Fr. Dennis Gui, parish priest of South Upi, said this is the second time Sioson has survived an assassination attempt in his term as vice mayor, but could not recall when exactly. He said Sioson’s driver was wounded in that ambush.
Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu has called for sobriety and calmness to all candidates in the province.
He condemned the attack and at the same time said that election in the province should be taken to higher level.
“Lets be more mature now in this present electoral practice. Our province deserves a peaceful election where the voices of people should be heard and politicians will not anymore resort to violence, but instead converse about their platform,” he said.
Mangudadatu himself suffered the worst election-related violence ever in the history of Philippine elections when his wife, sister, relatives and friends were killed while on a convoy to file his candidacy in 2009 in what is now known as The Maguindanao Massacre. A total of 58 people were killed in that incident, including 32 journalists.
South Upi is noted for a vicious cycle of violent elections since 1998.
At the moment, eight persons are vying for the position of mayor and three for vice mayor.
The police, meanwhile, are still digging deeper if the incident could be attributed as election-related.