Press Release
January 18, 2010


Liberal Party (LP) President Senator Mar Roxas today condemned the gruesome murder last weekend of an LP candidate for councilor and a female supporter in separate incidents in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur and demanded a thorough investigation to find the killers so justice could be meted out.

Roxas said the death of Motalliden Pacman "Steve" Tapodoc, LP candidate for councilor in the town of Labangan in Zamboanga del Sur, and Hadja Hamira Abdullah Agcong, 44, could be the kick-off of organized violence against opposition candidates and supporters to sabotage the widely-expected opposition victory in the May 10 elections.

He demanded that DILG Sec. Ronaldo Puno account for and give a thorough explanation to the public why he failed to stop the rising incidence of violence that has so far victimized mainly opposition candidates and supporters.

He also said the Commission on Elections has to take drastic steps to stop the rising poll-related violence, or risk damaging the credibility of the elections.

Roxas said the replacement of the entire PNP contingent in the province could be required as LP leaders and supporters in Zamboanga del Sur have expressed concerns the gunmen may be men in uniform moonlighting or co-opted to do dirty work for pro-administration candidates in the region.

"Kung talagang dapat mag-reshuffle ng mga pulis, dapat tinututukan ni Puno ang mga lugar kung saan nagagamit ang mga pulis para maghasik ng lagim kontra sa mga pulitikong kalaban ng kanilang patron (If the police were to be reshuffled, then Puno should focus on the areas where the police are being used to sow terror against the rivals of their political patrons)," he stressed.

"Palibhasa, mas abala sina Puno ngayon sa pagbalasa ng mga pulis sa mga lugar kung saan mahina ang kandidato ng administrasyon. Nahinto na namin ito sa Capiz, Cavite at Alaminos (It's disappointing that Puno is busier reshuffling the police in areas where the administration candidate is weak. We were able to stop this in Capiz, Cavite and Alaminos)," he added.

Tapodoc, 35, was near the Philippine Independent Church and behind the Pagadian City Hall in Pagadian City when two motorcycle-riding gunmen riding in tandem fired shots at him around 7:00 am Sunday. Seven gunshot wounds caused Tapodoc's immediate death.

Agcong, 44, was brutally gunned down in front of her sick son by an unidentified assailant at around 9 p.m. last Saturday upon alighting from her vehicle at the parking lot in front of the Gaisano Mall.

Agcong, who went to Gaisano to buy medicine for her son, was hit thrice in the chest, causing her immediate death.

Tapodoc's and Agcong's murder raised to four the LP martyrs who gave their life in the run-up to the May 10 national and local elections.

Early this week, two gunmen also shot and killed Marciliano "Bong" Dizon, Noynoy Aquino for President Movement (NAPM) coordinator in Mexico town, while visiting the wake of a man he considered his father in Barangay San Pedro Camuning.

In November last year, an LP volunteer—Atty. Connie Brizuela—was among the 57 individuals who were brutally murdered in Maguindanao.

Vice-Governor Roy Ariosa, the LP candidate for governor, and Labangan Vice-Mayor Kitty Nandang, who is the LP bet for mayor in Labangan, immediately accused pro-administration candidates and security forces in the province as the brains behind the murder of the two LP martyrs.

"Tinambangan si Steve malapit sa isang simbahan, sa likod pa ng munisipyo. Si Hadja Hamira naman, pinatay sa harap pa ng kanyang anak. Walang respeto sa Diyos, sa pamilya at sa batas ang mga pumaslang sa kanila (Steve was ambushed near a church and behind the city hall. Hadja Hamira was killed in front of a mall, in front of her son. Those who killed them do not respect God, family and the law)," he said.

"Sa mga pumaslang kina Steve at Hadja Hamira: hinding-hindi ninyo mapapatay ang pag-asa at pangarap ng lahat ng Pilipino para sa tunay na pagbabago (To those who killed Steve: you will never, never be able to kill the hope and dreams of all Filipinos for real, transformative change)," he said.

Roxas, running-mate of LP standard-bearer Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, challenged the government to swiftly bring the murderers to justice and to escalate its efforts to eliminate electoral violence.

"Kandidato man ng Liberal, Nacionalista, Lakas-Kampi o iba pang partido, dapat pantay-pantay ang proteksyon (All candidates—whether from LP, NP, Lakas-Kampi or other parties—should be equally protected)," he added.

"The government has to stop this violence. Secretary Puno's failure to do his job is a sure sign the Administration is not intent on protecting the May 10 vote. If candidates and poll volunteers are blatantly killed, how can voters feel secure? How can they freely and confidently exercise their right to vote in this environment of fear?" Roxas stressed.

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