By EDWIN IYO,
and SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
STILL unidentified men shot and killed a barangay chairman on the highway in Punta Gorda in Hermano, Balingasag town, Misamis Oriental, Sunday night.
The gunmen fired at least five times against the victim, 59-year-old Claver Miral of Barangay Napaliran, Balingasag, while he was on his way home from Jasaan town where the official had joined a friend who celebrated a birthday, according to Misamis Oriental police director Col. Rolando Destura.
Destura said Miral succumbed to five gunshot wounds all over.
Balingasag councilor Alvin Suazo said Miral was riding a motorcycle, and two motorcycle-riding gunmen tailed behind.
Suazo said Miral was attacked when they were in a dark area of the highway in Punta Gorda.
Capt. Ismael Vergel Gondaya, Balingasag police chief, said Miral was attacked at around 9 pm, and it remained unclear if the barangay chairman was driving his motorcycle or stopped when the shots were fired.
Gondaya said crime scene investigators found three 9mm pistol shells in the area.
Miral did not die on the spot. “Nakasulti pa siya ug naestoryahan niya ang mga rescuers nga gipusil siya sa duha ka tawo,” Gondaya said.
Miral was rushed to the provincial hospital in Balingasag, and subsequently, to the Capitol University Medical City in Gusa, this city, where he was declared dead.
Destura said investigators have yet to establish the motive for the killing and identify suspects.
Miral’s wife Lina told the police she suspected that the gun attack was politically motivated, and asked them to pursue the angle.
The murdered barangay chairman was an ally of Balingasag vice mayor Alex Quina who is seeking to re-take his old post by challenging the reelection bid of town mayor Marietta Abogado. Quina is the standard bearer of the Padayon Pilipino in Balingasag.
Abogado quickly brushed off speculations by stating that she and Miral remained as friends, adding that she and the barangay chairman even met in her office recently.
“Bisan dili pareho among politika pero amigo gihapon mi adto. Di mahitabo nga ako ang magpapatay niya, ug ikaduha, dili ko in-ana,” Abogado said.
Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano called on Col. Destura to speed up the investigation, find out why Miral was killed, and bring his killers to justice.
“Hinaot madali kini pagsulbad ang maong kaso arun mahatagan ug igong hustisya ang kamatayon sa kapitan ug hustiya maangkon usab sa iyang pamilya,” Emano said. “Mapolitika man o dili, kinahanglan matutukan pag ayo sa atong kapulisan ang maong pagpatay sa kapitan.”
Gondaya said investigators were considering the possibility that Miral was killed because of any of the three: personal grudges, business conflict or partisan politics.
The victim was reportedly a real estate broker who also had a sand and gravel business.
Gondaya said the police have asked the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group to help investigate the murder of Miral.