Camp Olivas, Pampanga—The mayor of a Nueva Ecija town who escaped an ambush on Tuesday has accused the Central Luzon regional police director of masterminding the attempt on his life.
In an interview with Nueva Ecija reporters on Thursday, San Antonio Mayor Arvin Salonga said Police Brig. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia was the brains behind the foiled assassination attempt on him and his driver, Danilo Malamat Camilo, at a bridge at Barangay Esquivel, Jaen town.
Sermonia has yet to answer queries from the Standard as of presstime.
Salonga filed an abuse-of-authority case against the general with the Ombudsman last year for dismissing San Antonio’s police chief, Police Major Roderick Corpuz, without informing the mayor or local government unit.
“Wala naman akong alam na kalaban except si Sermonia na kinasuhan ko sa Ombudsman dahil sa pagtangal nya sa hepe ng San Antonio ng walang pasabi sa local government unit or sa akin,” the mayor told reporters.
Salonga said that under Section 63 of the Republic Act 8551, or the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act, the chief executive of a local government unit has the authority to choose from a list of five eligible police chiefs recommended by the provincial police director.
In the case of the San Antonio police chief, Salonga said Sermonia booted out Corpuz for overstaying without informing the LGU chief executive, which the mayor said was a violation of RA 8551.
“The working relationship between San Antonio and the police had been exemplary under Corpuz’s watch,” said Salonga in his complaint affidavit filed before the Ombudsman.
Policemen are chasing the group of armed men believed responsible for the Sept. 8 daytime ambush of Salonga and Camilo
Security cameras are being reviewed to identify the suspects, Central Luzon police authorities at Camp Olivas announced Thursday.
Salonga, 48, escaped unhurt while Camilo, 52, was slightly injured, hit by a stray bullet to his neck, after gunmen strafed the vehicle they were riding on while approaching the bridge between San Leonardo and Jaen towns past 8 a.m.
According to the police report, the victims’ Toyota Land Cruiser (ZTU-515) incurred five bullet holes, two on the left side and three on the right.
It was the first major crime incident involving a local executive of Nueva Ecija this year.
Police said the victims were on their way to San Antonio municipal hall after they visited a farm in San Leonardo unidentified armed men, reportedly positioned on both sides of the bridge, fired on them. Two other suspects were on board a motorcycle.
Salonga told investigators he saw the suspects standing on the bridge at a distance of three meters each while aiming handguns towards their vehicle. He also noticed a motorcycle riding-in-tandem tailing their vehicle shortly before the series of gun bursts.
The mayor, who said he was driving, accelerated after he heard the series of gun bursts. His security aide was on the passenger seat. Salonga parked his vehicle at a nearby clinic for treatment of the wound in his neck.