2 dead, 2 injured in Ilocos shootout

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Laoag City —Two supporters of two rival candidates died in a shootout in Pagudpud town in Ilocos Norte Tuesday afternoon.

Witnesses said Ryan Calventas, the driver of reelectionist Mayor Matilde “Maja” Sales, had just come from the mayor’s house and was driving a white Grandia at 2pm to fetch some of her supporters for a meeting in Poblacion 1 when they had an encounter with supporters of rival candidate Marlon Sales, Matilde’s brother-in-law.

Marlon’s supporters, Roger Ragasa and Wilson Laguanta, were in an L300 van.

Both Calventas and Ragasa died of multiple gunshot wounds. Laguanta is being treated at the provincial hospital while Remedios “Emy” Asuncion, a bystander hit by a stray bullet, is at a hospital in Laoag City.

It was still unclear what triggered the shootout. But Ilocos Norte PNP provincial director Gerardo Ratuita, who immediately went to crime scene after the incident, said, “There are witnesses who saw the shooting incident. "Madali nating mabigyan ng solusyon ito (We can easily solve this).”

Police recovered spent .45 cal. shells from the crime scene.

The Sales clan has controlled politics in Pagudpud town for decades. Matildeis seeking a second term as mayor while Marlon hopes to make a comeback.

The two had a falling out when Marlon’s wife, Kleng, lost to Matilde in the 2010 elections. Matilde’s husband, Reynolan “Teteng” Sales, also served as mayor for three terms before he was succeeded by his younger brother, Marlon.

Police in the 21 towns and two cities of Ilocos Norte have been on full alert. Members of the 81st Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines have arrived in the province as augmentation force.

(VERA Files is put out by senior journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true”.)

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