By NITZ ARANCON
POLICE yesterday pressed murder charges against the barangay chairman of Malanang, Opol in Misamis Oriental, over the shooting death of the husband of his rival in this week’s elections.
Slapped with murder charges were Sino Dragon and his supporters Arnel Vertudazo and Hermis Abellanosa.
They were charged in connection with the killing of Eleazar Zafra — he was shot to the back — in Zone 2, Malanang at around 9:40 pm on Sunday.
Dragon lost in the race for the barangay chairperson’s seat to Zafra’s widow Nilda the following day.
Opol police chief Dennis Flores said the complaint against Dragon and his supporters was filed before the Misamis Oriental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office.
Insp. Flores said Dragon was the first to report the shooting incident to the police but witnesses subsequently came forward and pointed at the barangay chairman and his supporters as the group behind the gun attack.
Dragon has strongly denied any hand in the shooting death.
Insp. Flores said Dragon surrendered and was detained.
“Dragon told us he surrendered to show his innocence but circumstantial evidence pointed at him as primary suspect,” Flores said.
He said one witness identified Dragon as one of 15 gunmen who waited and fired at a Toyota Hilux driven by Zafra.
He said with Zafra in the vehicle were three companions. They were negotiating a hill at City Homes Subdivision when the gunmen fired.
“The suspects used the cover of darkness and superior number to conduct the crime. This is simply a murder case,” he said.
Flores said Zafra died after he was brought to the Polymedic Hospital in Cagayan de Oro. A companion was pronounced out of danger.
Misamis Oriental election supervisor Carlito Ravelo said the death of Zafra was the only violent incident recorded as of 4 pm Monday.
“We have reports of supporters shouting at each other; reports of vote buying but otherwise the barangay elections went without any major trouble,” Ravelo said.