Political organizers in Siargao get death threats

GENERAL LUNA, Siargao Island (MindaNews/03 May) — Several political organizers in Siargao Island received death threats last week from armed men believed to be goons of politicians.

In General Luna town, three organizers for a local political party were threatened to be killed by four armed men on Friday night.

“They came to our house close to midnight and they ordered me not to move and raised my hands, I was shocked because I did nothing wrong to anyone,” said Edwin Trugillo, 47, of Barangay Corazon and an organizer cum leader of Rep. Guillermo A. Romarate Jr.

One of the armed men asked Trugillo who was with his wife and seven children at that time, who he will vote for governor.

He said the Tagalog-speaking armed man got mad when he answered he would vote for Romarate, currently the representative of Surigao del Norte’s 2nd District.

“Papatayin kita and pati lahat ng pamilya mo pag may boto ni Romarate didto kahit isa. Dapat walang boto namakuha ni Romarate didto,” (I will kill you including your family if Romarate will get one vote here. There should be no vote for Romarate here,” he quoted the armed man as saying.

“We will come back and kill you,” the armed men said and left copies of pamphlets containing attacks against Romarate.

Trugillo said the armed men covered their faces with masks.

He said he and his family reported the incident to the police on Saturday morning.

Also close midnight last Friday, three armed men forced their way into the house of Rodulfo Dumagtoy, 77, in Barangay Sta. Cruz.

Dumagtoy, Romarate’s organizer-leader in the village said he got up to check the noise and was surprised to see the armed men.

“They pointed their guns to my head and body and ordered not to vote for Romarate,” he said.

One of the intruders said: “Ubusin ko kayo pagpatay,” (I will kill you all).

The armed men left copies of anti-Romarate pamphlets and fled.

On Sunday dawn, Jose Escamillan, 73, suffered the same ordeal.

“It was 1 o’clock dawn and these armed men came to our house and pointed their guns at me. I can’t fight them because I have no gun,” Escamillan said.

Escamillan, Dumagtoy and Trugillo said the incidents were the first of their kind in General Luna.

Romarate’s organizers in the villages of Libertad, Santa Fe, La Janusa, Suyangan and Anajawan were reportedly threatened too but did not tell the police about it.

Senior Insp. Arnel Banaken, police chief of General Luna told MindaNews on Tuesday that they were investigating the incidents.

He said they conducted patrols and intensified the barangay intelligence network to thwart a recurrence of the incidents.

“Good thing no bloodshed has happened,” he said.

In Dapa town, the reported presence in island villages of armed men believed to be working for a candidate has created fear among residents.

Barangay chair Heron Consilles of Barangay Corregidor said villagers have become wary of strangers in the place.

He recalled that on the night of April 17, armed men came and threatened the supporters of Romarate and his allies.

On the same night the same thing happened to supporters of Romarate and his allies in two other island villages of Dapa — Monserrat and Santa Fe.

Paul Boncaros, a resident of Dapa said incidents like this never happened in previous elections.

Dapa police had investigated these incidents but no arrests have made so far.

Romarate is running against incumbent governor Sol F. Matugas.

His ally, lawyer Constantino Navarro III is running for congressman of the 1st District against Francisco Jose Matugas, the son of the governor.

Francisco Matugas, the governor’s husband, is the incumbent congressman of the 1st District.

Former Dapa Mayor Peter Boy Ruaya, another Romarate ally, is seeking to regain his former post against businesswoman Elizabeth Matugas, the sister of the congressman. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)