By Leilanie Adriano, VERA Files
MARCOS, Ilocos Norte—A village chief running for mayor of this town was gunned down on Saturday afternoon, becoming the second mayoral candidate here shot by motorcycle-riding men.
Fortuna barangay captain Alfredo Arce, 62, was driving his motorcycle on his way home from a birthday party in his village around 2 p.m. when unidentified men riding in tandem on a motorcycle shot him several times, police said.
Arce was running as an independent candidate against incumbent Mayor Salvador Pillos of the Lakas Christian Muslim Democrats and neophyte candidate Arsenio Agustin of the Nacionalista Party.
Pillos himself was shot in front of the Marcos Agro-industrial School on Feb. 18. He survived with a few scrapes.
Police said Arce was shot twice below the left ear. The bullets exited through his armpit.
Recovered at the crime scene were at least six empty shells of .45 cal. pistol.
Police investigators said Arce still managed to drive his motorcycle and run toward the house of the Macatiag family nearby when he was attacked, but the one of the gunmen caught up with him. The Macatiags live a few meters away from Arce.
Two passengers of a passing jeepney were injured by stray bullets and taken to a nearby hospital.
“Nakakaalarma na itong pangyayari dahil sunod-sunod na ang mga shooting incidents sa Ilocos Norte. Sana lalo pang maging alerto ang ating kapulisan (The recent string of shooting incidents in Ilocos Norte is very alarming. I hope the police will be more alert),” Senior Superintendent Gerardo Ratuita, acting provincial police director, said.
Ratuita said augmentation forces from the Philippine Army have been deployed and additional checkpoints have been set up, but goons for hire remain on the loose in the province.
He said a checkpoint is located a few meters from Arce’s house.
Earlier this month, Arce spent several days in jail after police raided his house and recovered a gun and bomb paraphernalia. But the court ordered his release.
The victim’s wife, Edita, said she believes the killing was politically motivated.
“Awan sabali nga ammok a makagapu no saan a pulitika ti pannakatay ti asawak, (There is no other reason for my husband’s death except politics),” she said.
Ratuita said police are considering placing Marcos town under Commission on Elections control because of the recent shooting incidents.
Marcos, a fourth-class municipality in Ilocos Norte’s second district, has 13 barangays.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)