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PIA Press Release

Pagudpud vice mayor survives ambush; 2 security men dead

by Cristina Arzadon

Laoag City (22 June) -- Unidentified gunmen fired at the car of newly-elected Pagudpud Mayor Matilde Sales late Monday afternoon while they were cruising along the national road in the boundaries of Bangui and Burgos town, some 50 kilometers from this city.

Sales' two close-in security have died from the ambush while two others suffered minor wounds.

Sales, presently the vice mayor, and five others including a Bombo Radio-Laoag senior reporter were on board a Toyota Grandia van and were traversing Barangay Nagsurot in Burgos when unidentified gunmen attacked.

Police said the group had just left Pagudpud and had reached Burgos town on their way to Laoag around 4:30 pm Monday when they were fired upon.

Killed were Sales' close-in security Mario Monje and Phertofil Caletena while another security Lito Rangasan and driver Bernardo Dornagon were slightly hurt by shrapnel and declared stable.

Sales and Bombo Radio senior reporter Lita Baptista, who were both seated in the middle section of the van, were both unharmed.

Pol. Supt. Bienvenido Rayco, Ilocos Police Deputy Provincial Director, said investigators are looking at politics as behind the attack.

Rayco said Sales, who ran and won as Pagudpud Mayor, is publicly known to have political rift with her brother-in-law and outgoing Mayor Marlon Sales.

The vice mayor ran and won as Pagudpud mayor in a three-cornered fight last May. She won against Imelda Benemerito-Llanes and her sister-in-law Emilen Garvida-Sales, wife of Mayor Marlon Sales and younger brother of Matilde's husband Reynolan Sales.

"They are not in good terms because of politics," Rayco said.

He said the police plan to ask Mayor Marlon Sales about the incident as part of routine investigation.

Matilde Sales said she and her group were proceeding to Laoag for an engagement when they were fired upon by men who were positioned from a higher ground at the ambush site.

"They knew I was going out of Pagudpud. They really planned out this ambush," she said.

Matilde Sales said she had received warnings from supporters hinting that her opponents would make sure that she would not be able to sit as Pagudpud mayor after the May elections but she ignored them.

"I didn't take those warnings seriously. I was not conscious of my security before. But this is my second life and I am destined to serve Pagudpud," she said.

Mayor Marlon Sales could not be reached for comments on his mobile phone but he was quoted on radio yesterday saying he was saddened by the incident and hoped the police could identify the suspects behind the attack. (PIA) [top]

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