Maguindanao roadside bombing survivor says attack strengthened his resolve to win

SOUTH UPI, Maguindanao (MindaNews / 14 April) – The mayoralty candidate in Maguindanao who survived a roadside bombing Wednesday afternoon said the attempt on his life will never stop him from seeking the mayorship even as the poll body granted his request for armed security escorts.

Vice Mayor Remegio Sioson of South Upi, Maguindanao said he has no idea why he has to be liquidated when his only desire is to serve, being a native resident living in this upland town.

The first termer vice mayor and former chief of the town’s planning division, Sioson is running for mayor under Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban party against seven other aspirants.

Sioson and his running mates decided to have a two-day off (Tuesday and Wednesday) in the campaign after the spouse of one of the party candidates passed away.

On Wednesday, Sioson and his supporters visited Barangay Pandan to ensure that the Maguindanao provincial team will have enough space and accommodation prior to the next day’s medical outreach program.

On his way back to Barangay Timanan from Barangay Kigan on board his Mitsubishi pickup truck, a loud blast greeted him at about 2:30 p.m. while in Sitio Bolo.

“I thought it was a busted tire, but the car’s windshields were shattered, then thick smoke enclosed the bombed car,” Sioson recalled.

“Thank God we all survived,” he added.

Three of his supporters were injured, two from windshield shards and the other was hit by a shrapnel on his leg.

Despite the incident, Sioson said he has become more determined to push with his candidacy but will take extra care.

“If it’s my fate or destiny, its gonna be this time or never,” said Sioson, an engineer.

He said it was hard to request the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to grant him armed security escorts due to the threats he has been receiving through text messages. But it was finally granted today, after Wednesday’s roadside bombing.

One of the threat messages he claimed having received said: “You are subject for liquidation.”

When Sioson responded by asking what he has done that merit assassination, the texter reportedly replied: “You have not done wrong against us but to our boss because you are the frontrunner in the mayoralty race.”

Sioson also survived an ambush on November 2013 while travelling back home in the borders of Datu Odin Sinsuat and North Upi, both in Maguindanao.

His driver was hurt in that incident.

“It is very hard for me to understand why I have to be liquidated when I have not offended anyone and all I want is to serve our people,” Sioson said.

His brother, the municipal engineer of South Upi, was killed in an ambush in 2008.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Toto Mangudadatu condemned the attack against Sioson and called on all candidates to raise the level of their campaign without resorting to violence.

“Now is the time to show to our people that Maguindanao can hold peaceful and genuine elections by allowing the electorate to vote freely,” he said.

The provincial Comelec office is mulling to place South Upi under “area of immediate concern” following Wednesday’s roadside bombing.