By Reyan L. Arinto, VERA Files
Tacloban City—A candidate for municipal councilor in a district in Leyte noted for election violence was held at knifepoint by a man during a campaign rally on Thursday night, police said.
Senior Insp. Miguelito N. Bocade, chief of Tabon-tabon municipal police office, identified the victim as Heidi R. Besa, 40, a reelectionist councilor of the municipality. Besa was town councilor in 2001 until 2007.
Besa and her party-mates were holding a campaign rally in Sitio Casilion, Barangay Mercadohay when a man suddenly grabbed her and poked a knife on her neck, said the police official.
“A supporter was able to corner the suspect and the latter fled towards the river. The victim sustained a bruise on her neck. We advised her to file a case against the suspect,” Bocade said. Police have identified the attacker who remains at-large.
While police have yet to establish whether the incident was politically motivated, Tabon-tabon mayoralty candidate Rustico B. Balderian, said the incident was aimed at obstructing their house-to-house campaign and rallies in the villages.
“I was actually the target, but I had two supporters escorting me. The suspect turned to Besa, who had no guard at that time,” Balderian said. “I just hope no other violence would erupt in Tabon-tabon as the elections draw near.”
Tabon-tabon is a fifth class municipality in the second congressional district of Leyte and is home to about 11,000 people. The second district is in the police and military’s list of areas of concern because of intense political rivalry and the presence of armed groups supporting various politicians.
Several violent incidents took place in Tabon-tabon during the 2007 and 2010 elections.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)