Ex-Lamitan mayor, 2 others shot dead in Ateneo

By Lance Arevada

What was supposed to be a day full of applause for the graduates of Ateneo Law School's Class of 2022 has suddenly been filled with gunshots as a doctor triggered a targeted gun attack inside the Ateneo de Manila University's Areté Complex in Quezon City on Sunday, July 24.

Photo Courtesy by Michael Vargas (The Philippine Star) / Screengrab from INQUIRER.net

According to police reports, Chao-Tiao Yumol, a 38-year-old doctor, fatally shot former Lamitan City, Basilan Mayor Rose Furigay, her aide, and a security guard from Ateneo, as she was supposed to attend the graduation of her daughter.

The aide and the security guard were identified as Victor George Capistrano and Jeneven Bandiala. While Furigay's daughter, Hannah, is now in stable condition after sustaining injuries from the attack.

In a press briefing, Quezon City Police District (QCPD) director Brigadier General Remus Medina described Yumol as a “determined assassin” who individually sought to kill Furigay over motives involving personal conflicts, including his repeated accusations of corruption against the former mayor and about 76 counts of cyber libel filed by Furigay against the gunman.

Both Yumol and Furigay were local residents of Lamitan City in Basilan.

“Initially, sa pagtatanong namin sa kanya, mayroon na silang long history ng away sa Lamitan, Basilan. So according to them, eh nagpapalitan na sila ng kaso. Itong si doktor naman ay laging nape-pressure sa pamilya ng Furigay. So lumalabas, personal ang away nila,” the director said.

Medina detailed that the suspect was able to enter Ateneo by riding a transport network service vehicle, in which he then blended with the crowd waiting for the graduation ceremony until he found his target.

 “Pagpasok ng biktima, ‘yon sinalubong na niya ng putok. And then may guard na naging casualty din, ‘yong security guard natin. And then ‘yong Capistrano nabaril din niya,” he said.

The gunman apparently brought two pistols with him to execute his attack, evading inspection from security personnel in Ateneo and despite the implemented gun ban in Metro Manila for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Upon shooting Furigay and the other two personnel, Yumol seized a vehicle within the vicinity and drove through the nearby suburban roads as he tried to escape from authorities.

“[Nag-drive siya] hanggang Aurora Boulevard, lumiko siya sa Aurora. Ayun nakuha na natin agad at meron tayong dragnet operation kaagad,” the director said.

The suspect is now under police custody as the QCPD continues its investigation of the incident. He has sustained injuries and a gunshot wound.

‘Ateneo under lockdown’

As the incident broke out, the whole campus of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) immediately went under lockdown to secure the entire vicinity. Shelter-in-place protocols, preventing people inside from going out of its buildings, were put in place until the area was cleared.

The scheduled commencement exercises of the Ateneo Law School has been cancelled due to the incident. Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, who was supposed to attend as the guest speaker, is reported to be safe as he was in transit and asked to turn back when the shooting happened.

In a statement, the ADMU strongly condemned the shooting incident and assured that the whole campus is safe and secured, with security protocols being further strengthened.

“Ateneo de Manila University extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. There is no acceptable reason for violence. We hope and pray that justice will be swiftly served,” the university said in a statement.

The whole campus has remained open for its regular operations following the shooting, while its Areté Complex is closed until further notice.

‘Condolences and condemnations’

Following the deadly shooting, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said that he was “shocked and saddened” over the events that unfolded in Ateneo and vowed a swift investigation by authorities.

“We commit our law enforcement agencies to thoroughly and swiftly investigate these killings and bring all involved to justice. Our prayers go to the graduates, their families, the Ateneo community, and to the residents of Quezon City and Basilan,” he said.

Vice President and Education Secretary Sara Duterte strongly condemned the incident, which happened inside an academic institution, as she urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) to address the issue of gun violence in the country.

"Such an act of violence should have no place in our society, especially in a place of learning — which is supposed to be considered a safe space for everyone, for the students mainly," Duterte said.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte has also expressed her condemnation of the shooting that occurred in her city, requesting QCPD to ensure “swift justice be attained.”

“This kind of incident has no place in our society and must be condemned to the highest level,” she said.

While in a statement, Basilan Governor Jim Hataman Salliman said that former Mayor Furigay’s untimely death is a “huge loss” for her constituents and the whole province, considering how she promoted good governance, peace, and development in Lamitan during her time.

“Her fate is detrimental to all that we stand for as united peoples of Basilan longing for genuine peace and development, Muslims and Christians alike. To this, I strongly denounce the shameful, dishonorable act committed by the perpetrator to an honorable and dignified person,” Hataman Salliman said.

“I call upon Basileños, Muslims and Christians alike, to be more attentive to the situation at hand, to be more careful on weighing the issues surrounding the incident, and to be even more united on our stand for a peaceful and developed Basilan,” he added.

The slain ex-mayor’s husband, incumbent Lamitan City Mayor Roderick Furigay, has yet to release a formal statement on the shooting. While Atty. Quirino Esguerra, Furigay’s legal counsel, refuted the suspect’s claims about the supposed involvement of the ex-mayor in illegal drugs and corruption.
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