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Bohol Mayor Suspect of Strafing Political Rival
« on: February 22, 2010, 06:50:45 AM »
By Bohol Chronicle

The Lakas-Kampi-CMD mayoralty candidate in Bien Unido town claims that the strafing of his house Wednesday night was politically motivated.

Rogelio Villarias, a municipal councilor and Lakas bet for mayor in Bien Unido, tagged his opponent and incumbent Mayor Niño Rey Boniel as the one responsible for the assault.

Two motorcycle-riding men fired at the house of Villarias while he was holding a meeting with his slate and some supporters at his residence in Bien Unido.

The gunmen strafed the steel gate of Villarias' residence tearing a section of the steel panel.

Mayor Boniel, when interviewed by the Chronicle, strongly denied Villarias' accusation, saying it was very impossible for him to resort to such action as a new-generation politician.

Boniel calls it a desperate by Villarias to gain sympathy and eventually win in the May polls.

Interviewed over Station dyRD last Wednesday, Villarias indicated some possible motives that may have driven his political rival to resort to violence saying this was not the first time armed men were seen outside his house.

The Lakas mayoralty bet referred to a complaint at the Ombudsman filed against Boniel and administrative charges still to be filed by a health worker against the reelectionist mayor for illegal dismissal.
         

Villarias admitted he has lent assistance to the filing of these cases against the mayor.

According to Villarias, the two motorcycle-riding suspects who fired at his house could be the same armed men seen by his neighbors during two instances aboard a black van and a sports utility vehicle.

The mayoralty candidate said that the incumbent mayor has been trying to harass him including his runningmate and candidates for councilor several times. He said, sometime last month when they were attending a barangay program, a candidate for councilor under Boniel's ticket grabbed the microphone when it was Villarias' turn to speak.

During the strafing at his house, Villarias said he called for assistance from the Bien Unido police station but nobody responded.

This prompted him to call Cebu City Police which relayed his call for assistance to Camp Dagohoy.

Policemen who responded at the scene recovered seven .9 mm caliber empty shells.

Villarias added there were two other incidents that his neighbors saw armed men aboard a vehicle parked in front of his house.

It was through calls from neighbors that Villarias was advised to stay inside his house, having suspicions that the armed men intend to kill him.

Villarias appealed to the Comelec and the Bohol Police Provincial Office to consider providing him security escort as incidents during the past months indicate he and his family are in grave danger.

Police however could not find any evidence linking the mayor to the strafing incident and the alleged presence of armed men in the town.

BONIEL DENIES

Mayor Boniel denied insinuations linking him to the strafing incident.

Boniel, who is running for re-election under the Nacionalista Party, said in a radio interview Friday that he immediately made representation and requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct an investigation.

He believed that the shooting was a concoction of his opponents to gain sympathy but that is a very "desperate" move.

He even hinted that the shooting is just a "show" for the public to insinuate that the town is in "trouble," adding that it was just the beginning. But the people won't believe that. He warned that there'll be another "drama" to be staged by his opponents.

"Kahibawo ko nga eksena napod 'ni. Naa pay daghan ani nga moabot. Di pa ni mao. Sinugdanan pa 'ni.

Akong bantayan 'ni tungod kay gusto nila kohaon ang simpatiya sa mga tawo.

Kahibawo ko di gyud na makuha nila," he said. He said that why link him in the incident, which he described as "politically motivated." He said that the people won't buy that lies because that is not the character of the Boniels who have been in the political arena for so long. The people already knew the real score.

He explained that why should an incumbent leader like him make such incredible "strafing" when it would adversely affect the image of the town. And the end result, he said, is the livelihood of the people for fear.

"Dako kayo na og epekto. Kita nagpasiugda sa paghatag sa panginabuhian sa turismo sa B-Unido. Nag-develop ta sa double barrier reef dive site."

Asked if the town be placed under the election-related watch-list, Boniel said that it may not be necessary because the town is very peaceful until the incident came into the picture.

He said he is open to have more security measures because he wants his town to be peaceful as it used to be. But the idea of making the town under the Comelec control would depend on the authorities' assessment. If it's needed, why not.

Asked if he wants security personnel, he said this also depends on the need. But right now, he just being accompanied by his casual workers in his sorties. The mayor further explained that he could not do it, since he knew that any activity that may disturb the peace and order situation of the town would back fire on him.

Worst, the initial investigation by the NBI and the police stated that the gunmen spit on the gate to mock the victim- -an act, according the mayor, he could never do to anyone.

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