Communist rebels belied claims that the shooting on the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona Saturday was an ambush, noting that their camp fired shots in "self-defense."
While apologizing for the incident which wounded Guingona and killed two of her escorts, the New People's Army said the mayor's camp made the first attack.
"Contrary to reports that the incident was an ambush, it started when Mayor Guingona's armed escorts fired upon an NPA checkpoint in Capitulangan," NPA North Central Mindanao Regional Operations Command spokesperson Alan Juanito said in a statement.
When it passed by the NPA checkpoint, Guingona's convoy "rammed against the bamboo roadblock mounted by the Red fighters while her escorts opened fire at the NPAs flagging down the convoy," Juanito added.
He further noted that the NPA unit was carrying out orders to implement the revolutionary policies related to the conduct of the May 2013 elections.
These include flagging down candidates and campaigners who carry firearms and armed escorts during their sorties in guerilla zones.
Guingona was fully aware of such policies and of checkpoints set up in Gingoog City and other areas in Misamis Oriental.
"Aside from explaining our policy to her campaigners, responsible cadres in the area also personally contacted Mayor Guingona through phone, reminding her to avoid bringing armed escorts during campaign sorties," it added.
The NPA nonetheless said it is taking responsibility for the "unfortunate incident."
This, as it highlighted respect for the Gingoog City mayor's husband, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, and son, Senator TG Guingona.
"We recognize Vice Pres. Guingona’s significant contribution to the Filipino people’s anti-dictatorship struggle and his steadfast nationalist standpoint on various issues," the NPA said.
"We look upon Senator TG Guingona’s pro-people standpoint," the group said further.
The NPA however said it will continue to implement revolutionary policies on election campaigns in guerilla zones.
"We wish to reiterate our warning to all candidates who are campaigning in guerilla zones to avoid carrying firearms or armed escorts to avoid the occurrence of similar incident in the future," the NPA said.