MisOcc town mayor wounded in pre-Christmas shooting dies

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 27 Dec) – Mayor Michael Gutierrez, of the municipality of Lopez Jaena in Misamis Occidental, died Monday in Manila where he was brought after sustaining a gunshot wound fired by a suspected sniper during a party before Christmas.

Mayor Michael Gutierrez addressing his constituents. Photo from Mayor Gutierrez’s Facebook page

Gutierrez’s daughter, municipal board member Andrea “Pinky” Gutierrez, confirmed her father’s passing in a Facebook post.

“You will always be special to me, and no matter where life takes me, I’ll remember you with love,” Andrea wrote. “You will be always be our vice governor, Pa. Rest in Peace, I love you very much,” she added.

Gutierrez was airlifted to Manila on Dec. 24 after a medical operation at the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center in Ozamiz City.

His family earlier posted that Gutierrez sustained a gunshot wound in the “left side of the brain” that also “affected the right side of the brain.”

Gutierrez never regained consciousness, his family said.

He and members of the PDP-Laban and Asenso Ozamiz were having a Christmas party at the Working Coffee Building at a gas station in Sitio Pulao, Barangay VII in Tangub on Dec. 22 when the alleged sniper fired towards them.

Mayor Gutierrez and daughter Pinky. From Councilor Andrea “Pinky” Gutierrez’s Facebook page

Police investigator Deony Dale Alviar said a lone gunshot was heard while Gutierrez, Rep. Henry Oaminal (2nd district, Misamis Occidental), and former Oroquieta City Mayor Jason Almonte were enjoying the party.

Oaminal and Almonte sustained minor injuries and were treated in hospitals in Ozamiz City.

Supporters sent outpourings of sympathy to the Gutierrez family.

“Misamis residents will grieve the loss of a good public servant,” provincial board member Ruvy Ala said in a post.

“You are now in God’s hand kuya Mayor Michael Gutierrez. No more pain, no more sufferings,” a certain Carmelito Heray said.

Gutierrez was seeking the elective post of Misamis Occidental vice governor and was the running mate of Rep. Henry Oaminal who is running for governor.

He was running against Richard Centeno of the (National Unity Party and Alfredo Conol of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

Oaminal condemned the attack as “desperate and cowardly attempt on our lives” as he claimed the bullet was intended for him.

“The assassin’s bullet barely missed me, with the intention of bereaving my beloved family this Yuletide season,” he said. “I only suffered minor wounds,” he added.

Brig. Gen. Benjamin Acorda, chief of the Philippine National Police in Region 10, has formed a task force to run after the lone sniper and urged the public to provide information leading to the arrest. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)