Sun, Jan 03, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Politician dies of bullet wound in Philippines

AFP , BUTUAN, PHILIPPINES

An opposition politician in the southern Philippines who was attacked in an upsurge of violence ahead of May elections died of his gunshot wound on Friday, police and colleagues said.

Councillor Wilbert Suanco Origenes was rushed to hospital in the province of Surigao del Norte on Mindanao island in critical condition after a gunman broke into his home and shot him in front of his family on Tuesday.

He died from “complications arising from his injury,” police said.

“We are saddened by Origenes death. We hope justice be served,” said Alfonso Casurra, the local district chairman of the opposition Nacionalista Party (NP), under whose umbrella Origenes was to run for vice mayor of the town of Taganaan.

The NP’s leader, multimillionaire property developer and Senator Manny Villar, is to run for president in the May election.

Casurra said the attack on the 49-year-old Origenes may have been politically motivated, noting that it came just two days after another party member was killed.

On Monday a local NP politician was killed and six other people wounded when hooded gunmen opened fire on a convoy of about 50 people, most of them party candidates and their supporters, in the northern province of Ilocos Norte.

Police said they were investigating whether the attacks were linked, and have set up a task force to go after the assailants.

Political killings are common in this Southeast Asian nation of 92 million people, where influential clans and families are known to employ private armies to hold on to power.

The worst such incident occurred in November, when 57 people were massacred in the southern province of Maguindanao.

A son of the then-governor of Maguindanao has been charged over the killings, which authorities say he organized to prevent a rival challenging him for a provincial post in next year’s elections.

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