Negros Occidental city councilor gunned down

BACOLOD CITY — A councilor of Escalante City, Negros Occidental succumbed to injuries after he was shot by an unidentified motorcycle-riding man on his way home from a campaign sortie on Monday afternoon.

Bernardino Patigas Sr., 72, who was seeking a second term in the May 13 elections, was on board a motorcycle when the gunman waylaid him in Barangay Alimango at around 4:30 p.m.

Capt. Ronald Santillan, deputy city police chief, said in a radio interview on Monday night that the assailant tailed Patigas, who was traveling from the city proper.

When they reached the area in front of a school, the gunman shot the official from behind, he added.

Patigas died there and then from a fatal head injury and other gunshot wounds.

The assailant, who was seen wearing a cap, a ski mask, and a black jacket, used a .45-caliber pistol based on the three bullet shells recovered by the police.

Santillan said a family member told the police that Patigas never mentioned to them about receiving death threats. His relatives only heard about it from other people, he added.

“For now, we cannot yet determine the motive. It is still under investigation,” he said.

Police Col. Romeo Baleros, director of Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office, said in an interview on Tuesday investigators are looking into three angles – personal grudge, election related and illegal gambling.

In April last year, Patigas, former secretary-general of the Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, was among those included in a poster bearing faces of suspected communist rebels, which was circulated in Moises Padilla town.

Left-leaning groups such as the September 21 Movement-Southern Negros and Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights issued statements condemning the killing of Patigas.

Karapatan said Patigas, whom they referred to as “Tay Toto”, was a survivor of the Escalante massacre on Sept. 20, 1985 and continued to support human rights advocacies and joined fact-finding missions in Negros.

Patigas was the third councilor killed on Negros Island in the past month.

On March 25, Board Member Miguel Dungog, president of the Philippine Councilors League in Negros Oriental, was shot by two men on a motorcycle in Dumaguete City.

Six days later, Councilor Jolomar Hilario of Moises Padilla, Negros Occidental, was gunned down by members of the New People’s Army at his residence in Barangay Inolingan. Nanette Guadalquiver /PNA –