Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Gunman kills Mapandan vice mayor and his driver

MAPANDAN, Pangasinan — The vice mayor of this town and his driver were shot dead early Wednesday evening by a gunman a few meters from the municipal hall here.

Vice Mayor Adolfo Aquino, 55, suffered three bullet wounds in the head, and one each in the back and chest.

His driver, Victor Villanueva, 35, was hit in the chest as he tried to shield the vice mayor from the attack. Villanueva died later at the Region 1 Medical Center in Dagupan City.

Chief Inspector Reynaldo Tamondong, police chief here, said that Aquino had just come from the Sangguniang Bayan session hall, where he presided over the regular session, when he was attacked.

He said that Aquino was in his car when he left the municipal hall compound and had just entered the main road when he saw a retired police officer, Pelagio Melchor on the sidewalk.

Aquino got off his car and greeted Melchor. Councilors Catalino Morales and Asuncion Calimlim, who were following Aquino in their cars, also alighted and joined Aquino.
It was here that the gunman, coming from across the road, approached Aquino and shot him, killing him instantly.

Police Director-General Arturo Lomibao, who flew to this town yesterday morning, relieved the entire Mapandan police force and designated Chief Inspector Efren Serenilla, group director of the 107th Police Mobile Group, as acting police chief.

Lomibao also created Task Force Aquino and named Supt. Edgar Basbas as head shortly after a reenactment of the incident was conducted.

Dabby Aquino, the slain vice mayor’s younger brother, said he was standing about 20 meters from the vice mayor when he was shot.

He said that after the shooting, the killer, about five feet and seven inches in height, wearing a ball cap and a red shirt, casually walked away towards the municipal cemetery.

The younger Aquino said that he tried to give a chase but he said he stopped when the gunman saw him and trained his gun at him. He said the gun, a .45 caliber pistol, jammed.

While escaping, Aquino said, the killer removed his shirt and cap and simply vanished in the cemetery.

Aquino said the slain vice mayor was supposed to leave for the United States yesterday to join a family reunion.

He also said he did not know of any enemy of his brother because, he said, the vice mayor was very secretive.

Mayor Ferdinand Calimlim, who rushed back here from Manila, where he is preparing for his flight also to the US today, called for an immediate investigation of the incident.

He said there may have been political differences between him and Aquino but he clarified that they are in agreement on their goals for this town.
Calimlim, who is in his second term, ran under the banner of the administration Lakas-CMD in the 2004 elections, while Aquino ran as candidate of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP).

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