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MANILA — A Liberal Party (LP) mayor, who avoided suspension upon the alleged intercession of Malacañang, was shot to death  in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan last June 3, a few days after he revealed to media people a plot to kill him.

Urbiztondo Mayor Ernesto Balolong Jr., whose house was raided by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in 2013 on allegation he had a cache of firearms, was peppered with bullets while doing a routine exercise walk in front of the family-owned building on Rizal St., Poblacion, Urbiztondo at 9:15 a.m. said Senior Supt. Sterling Blanco, director of the Pangasinan police office. He suffered 27 wounds caused by bullets fired from M-16 rifle and 9mm pistol.

The gunmen also killed Police Officer 1 Eliseo Ulanday, reportedly the mayor’s security aide; and Edmund Meneses, an employee of a store in Urbiztondo, Blanco said.

Another person, Rex Ferrer, 52, was wounded.

Supt. Rolly Saltat, community relations officer of  the Police Regional Office 1, said all the victims were taken to the Virgin Milagrosa Hospital where Balolong, Ulanday and Meneses were pronounced dead on arrival.

Blanco said the gunmen fled aboard a dark-gray Toyota Innova with conduction sticker YB6600. The vehicle was later found abandoned in Barangay Caoayan-Kiling in San Carlos City, also in Pangasinan.

As relatives and supporters of the mayor expressed fear for their lives following the killing of Balolong, the Pangasinan Police Office formed a special investigating body to look into the assassination, Chief Inspector Ryan Manongdo said.

A few days before he was killed, Balolong told local media people that he has been receiving death threats.

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“Papatayin daw ako at kailangan ako maalis sa puwesto,” Balolong said.

Last April, Balolong denied reports he had been in hiding to evade being served an order for 60-day preventive suspension. The order arose from a provincial board’s recommendation.

“I am not in hiding, They are spreading lies,” Balolong said then, explaining that his “political enemies” are behind illegal activities. He did not elaborate.

Balolong, who had suspected that a board member was behind his suspension, denounced the provincial government’s order, citing abuse of discretion. He had filed an appeal with the Office of the President.

Meanwhile, Pangasinan Governor Amado T. Espino Jr. condemned in the strongest terms the murder of Balolong and the two other victims as he ordered concerned law-enforcement agencies to get to the bottom of the case. (Manila Bulletin)