Gunmen Fire On Home Of Newly Elected Mayor
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Gunmen fired on the home of a newly elected mayor Wednesday and fraud charges kept nearly 130 candidates from being declared victors in the latest outbreaks of post-election strife, the government said.
The Philippines News Agency quoted police as saying unidentified gunmen fired about 20 shots before dawn at the home of Mayor-elect Liberato Reyna near Dagupan City, some 110 miles north of Manila in northern Luzon.
Reyna was in Manila at the time and the four people asleep in the house were uninjured, the agency said.
It quoted police as saying the attack may have been election related. More than 90 people were killed, including 39 candidates, in the hotly contested polls.
In Manila, elections commission chairman Ramon Felipe announced Tuesday he had suspended the proclamation of 128 winners in 26 areas because losing candidates had submitted sworn statements and other evidence of fraud. He ordered a review of balloting in those areas.
Felipe’s order effects mayoral races in the Manila suburbs of Quezon City, Paranaque and Pasay City, plus local contests in widely scattered areas of Luzon, Mindanao, Samar, Panay and Negros islands.
The center-right opposition Grand Alliance for Democracy protested the order and accused the commission of favoring candidates of President Corazon Aquino’s ruling coalition.
Alliance chairman Francisco Tatad called Felipe’s order ″a brazen attempt to undo the electoral process and overthrow the popular will.″
Among those whose election proclamation was withdrawn was former Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo, who was leading in the race for governor of Cagayan province. His opponents charged Aguinaldo used force and coercion to win votes.
Aguinaldo was implicated but never charged in last August’s bloody coup attempt. He later left the Philippine Constabulary and organized a private army to fight communist rebels.
People in 62 provinces voted Jan. 18 for provincial governors, mayors and other regional officials. Voting was delayed until various dates in 11 provinces because of fears of violence. As of Wednesday, officials had proclaimed winners in 22 gubernatorial and vice gubernatorial contests.
Elsewhere, supporters of a losing mayoralty candidate in Cotobato City stormed the city hall Wednesday and forced a halt to ballot counting. Troops were dispatched to disperse the crowd and there were no reports of violence.
But Felipe ordered the ballot counting transferred to the local military headquarters.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Aquino urged officials Wednesday to speed the completion of economic projects in the countryside to complement the stepped-up military offensive against the communist insurgency.
″Visibility of government in the grassroots via roads, water systems and other essential elements is a must,″ Deputy Press Secretary Danilo Gozo quoted Mrs. Aquino as saying during a meeting of her Cabinet’s economic committee.