ALBUERA, Leyte – The president of the Association of Barangay (village) Captains (ABC) in this town, who was previously linked to the Espinosa drug group, survived an ambush on Monday.
Alberto Sumaljag, 60, an ex-officio member of the town council, managed to escape death when he quickly stretched out at his vehicle’s front seats as perpetrators gunned him using armalite rifle along the town’s national highway.
In a phone interview, Sumaljag said he was driving his car and was heading to the town center when a gray car overtook him, which prompted him to slow down along Cambalading village.
One passenger wearing a bonnet suddenly went off the perpetrators’ vehicle and pointed at him the rifle he was carrying and quickly started firing at an estimated distance of five meters.
“I laid flat at the front seats leaving the steering wheel uncontrolled,” the village chief said in an interview Monday night.
He added that when the gunfire stopped, he hurriedly left the place on board his car despite a blurry front windshield that was damaged by the firing while the culprits escaped.
“What was on my mind then was to immediately reach the police station to seek help,” Sumaljag told reporters.
He cited politics as behind the attempt of his killing.
The firing that lasted for about a minute left him almost unharmed.
Despite the head-on firing that resulted in bullet holes at the front and back windshields, including a portion of the right side window, he only sustained abrasion on his shoulder caused by broken glass.
Sumaljag, the town’s current ABC president, has been village chief of Benolho since 1997.
It is in Benolho where slain Mayor Rolando Espinosa, Sr. established his residence.
At least 11 kilograms of shabu were recovered during the raid at Espinosa’s ancestral house in 2016.
The former mayor, who was slain during a raid at his prison cell in Baybay City late 2016, is the father of detained self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.
He said he was once linked to the Espinosas as drug protector but was later on cleared by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Albuera police chief, Sr. Insp. Salvador Apacible, Jr., said a pursuit has been launched and an investigation is ongoing to identify the criminals and to identify the motive.
In a police report, the team of the crime scene operation recovered nine pieces of M16 and one for caliber .45 empty bullets. (PNA)