By Cris Diaz
Since last year, the more than 40 unsolved killings have become an issue of concern among residents in the small city of Gingoog, east of Misamis Oriental, 122 kilometers east of Cagayan De Oro City.
The killings reached its height at the end of March 2015 when unidentified suspects shot and killed one of the city’s known opposition candidates in the 2013 mayoral elections. . The shooting stirred the entire province of Misamis Oriental that the news wire service breaks the story.
The suspects pumped bullets on Marc Anthony Bagaipo, 44, in front of a crowd who were shocked at the daring attacked during a vigil in the house of a political ally in Talisay, an outskirt village, east of Gingoog City.
I did not know Bagaipo pretty well until he called on me one time, while on coverage of the Capitol in Misamis Oriental. I thanked him when he told me that he always follow my column. Since then, we became informal friends and we simply nod our heads whenever we met elsewhere.
Then, I have the rare opportunity to meet and talk to Bagaipo when I was covering a relief operation for the flood victims sometime in January this year in Gingoog City.
Bagaipo personally supervised the distribution of free medicines (mostly for cough, fever, and vitamins for children), food packs, and rice to flood victims. The flood was the result of the Low Pressure Area (LPA) that persisted until January after the typhoon Seniang sometime in the end of Dec. 2014.
Personally, I could not detect any trace of a threatened man in Bagaipo’s face. When we met, he talked and chatted with the less fortunate who walked miles, with tattered and muddy slippers, just to have their share of the relief packs distributed by the provincial government of Misamis Oriental.
Bagaipo’s shooting took place in Talisay, a sleeping village that borders in the town of Magsaysay, the last municipal town east of Misamis Oriental. Police recovered empty shells from a .45 caliber pistol at the crime scene.
The police theorized that Bagaipo must have known the suspects because the former did not resist when held on the shoulder. Perhaps, the suspect whispered something in Bagaipo’s ears before shooting him at close range twice on the head. Not contended, the suspect pumped bullets on Bagaipo’s breast as he, probably, staggered to the ground.
Certainly, the killers are professionals. One thing, however, the killers did not come from the place because the people failed to recognize them. At least, some witnesses have provided a vivid description of the assailants because they did not wear masks other than a ball cap and a jacket. The killers fled on two motorcycles that probably split as they rush toward the highway in order to deceive the would-be-chasers.
Who killed Bagaipo? Why now, when the local election is approaching? Was the killing politically motivated? Was Bagaipo a political threat that the only way to resolve the threat was to eliminate him? Why kill a man whose only weakness was the desire to serve the people? Why kill a man who was only known to be friendly and has no known enemy?
In 2013, Bagaipo ran for Mayor in Gingoog City under the opposition Padayon Pilipino political party. He lost by a slight margin of about 6,000 votes. Perhaps, if given a chance, Bagaipo who was reportedly active in serving the constituents in Gingoog could make it this time. -0- react: [email protected]