Philippines: Opposition Lawyer ‘Mauled’ by Camiguin Congressman, Ex-Gov

May. 02, 2007

Political violence has descended upon the island province of Camiguin in Northern Mindanao.

An election lawyer of Liberal Party (LP) gubernatorial candidate Antonio Gallardo sustained physical injuries after he was assaulted and mauled last Friday, April 27, by political rivals led by incumbent Caminguin Rep. Jurdin Jesus Romualdo and his father, former Camiguin Gov. Perdo Romualdo, both members of the administration Lakas- CMD party.

In a press statement, Gallardo, immediate past chief of staff of LP President Franklin Drilon, identified the mauling victim as lawyer Florencio Narido Jr., a resident of Catarman, Camiguin Province.

In his complaint before the Camiguin police, Narido said he was about the leave the Commission on Elections Provincial Office in Poblacion Mabajao at about 10:30 a.m. last Friday where he attended a disqualification case against Gallardo, when he was confronted and later punched and kicked by Congressman Romualdo, his father Perdo and three other persons identified as Dandin Romualdo, Toping Rodriguez and Zequel Gapatan. Rodriguez is said to be a Radio Bombo reporter based in Camiguin Province.

While he was being mauled, Narido said, Congressmen Romualdo pulled out a knife and gave it to an unidentified bodyguard who punctured the tires of his vehicle to prevent him from fleeing his attackers.

Witnesses said only with the timely arrival of lawyer Mariano Aparie, said to be the provincial election officer, did the Romualdos and their companions stop beating up Narido who by then suffered several injuries in the face and body.

Gallardo said the LP and Genuine Opposition (GO) leadership in Manila have been informed of the incident and were poised to file criminal and disqualification charges against the Romualdos before the Comelec.

LP Director General Chit Asis said LP lawyers would soon ask the Comelec to place the entire Camiguin Province under “Comelec control” to prevent further violence incidents and potential bloodshed in the area as a result of the mauling incident.

Earlier this month, Gallardo had denounced what he termed as “politically-motivated police harassment” against the opposition in the province by Philippine National Police (PNP) provincial command under Senior Superintendent Isagani Francisco Genabe, Jr.

Gallardo, said he and incumbent Mambajao Mayor Gogo Romualdo, guest LP candidate for lone congressional district of Camiguin, have been subjected to “harassment and partisan biases committed by persons in fatigue uniforms without nametags, using a police vehicle.

The men are believed to be under the command of Police Provincial Director Genabe, said Gallardo, who is also LP Camiguin Provincial Chapter chairman.

“The aforesaid PNP personnel went beyond standard procedures set by law in conducting Comelec gun ban inspections and in total disregard of the well settled ‘plain view doctrine’ by insisting, despite our objections, that all our vehicles, without the benefit of a search warrant, be thoroughly searched inside out and all its occupants be bodily searched,” Gallardo said.

“The LP Camiguin chapter condemns in the strongest terms these election offenses, which mocks our democratic processes and aims at replacing the same with Marcos style authoritarian rule,” Gallardo added.

“We likewise call for the replacement of the said police officers and hold them liable for the said acts committed to serve as an example to our men in uniform that the rule of law should he upheld fairly to everyone and free from biases,” he added.

Gallardo and Mayor Romualdo are leading their respective opponents the local election surveys in the province. Gallardo, a former three-term governor of the province, is running against Congressman JJ Romualdo. Mayor Gogo Romualdo, on the other hand, is running against his own father former Camiguin Gov. Perdo Romualdo.

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