A barangay chairman in Balingasag town in Misamis Oriental was gunned dead Sunday evening (April 21) in what could possibly be the first election-related death in the province since the local campaign period started.
Police Capt. Princess Joy Enriquez, spokesperson of the Misamis Oriental Provincial Police Office, identified the victim as one Claver Miral, the barangay chairman of Napaliran in the said municipality.
According to the police report, Miral was on the way home from a birthday party in nearby Jasaan municipality when he was waylaid by two motorcycle-riding suspects along Puntagorda, barangay Hermano in Balingasag.
The victim sustained five gunshot wounds in body – two in the chest and three in the lower torso – and was rushed to a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City where he died.
Police found six spent shells at the crime scene.
The incident happened at around 10:00 p.m.
As of presstime, authorities do not have motive yet on the assassination and Miral’s political allies were still skeptical that it was politically motivated.
Although deemed as non-partisan, Miral is closely allied with former Mayor Alexis Quina, who is establishing his comeback and challenging the incumbency of Mayor Marrietta Abogado.
Quina’s aide Victorio Santua, a close friend of Miral, said that the slain barangay chairman has been solidly campaigning for the PaDayon Pilipino slate in the municipality led by Quina along with their district slate led by congressional newcomer Christian Unabia and the whole provincial slate led by reelectionist Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano.
Santua said that Miral was even instrumental in influencing his co-barangay officials in other parts of Balingasag to support the Quina camp.
Santua also said that Miral had no known enemies in his hometown, whether political or personal.
In a separate remark, Misamis Oriental Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Leonard Winstanley said barangay officials must coordinate with police at all times for their own protection.
As president of the Liga ng mga Barangay in the whole province, Winstanley is saddened by the passing of his co-barangay chairman, describing Miral as a hardworking official to his own constituents not just in Napiliran but an exemplary public servant in the whole of Balingasag.
On the other hand, Winstanley’s colleague at the provincial board SP member President Elipe is calling on authorities to speed up the investigation on Miral’s death.