By Ali G. Macabalang
South Upi, Maguindanao Mayor Reynalbert “Obet” Insular survived another attempt own his life, but the latest attack at Barangay Pandan in his town today, Jan. 3, left casualties.
Initial reports said Mayor Insular was unhurt in the “ambush” around 2:10 p.m. that came first with a blast followed by gunfire shots on his vehicle convoy by armed men.
The Maguindanao-based Army’s 6th Infantry Division said at least three people were wounded in the attack, which followed the torching of 13 houses in another village of South Upi on Dec. 31.
But in a messenger message, journalist Ferdinandh Cabrera, quoting police and civilian accounts, said one person died and four others were wounded, one of whom in critical condition.
Cabrera, who was in South Upi taking video footage at the time of the incident, said a loud roadside explosion along the route of Mayor Insular’s convoy was heard before unidentified armed men fired at their vehicles with long assault rifles.
A portion of Cabrera’s video showed a motorcycle-ring man speeding purportedly from the direction of the ambush scene.
Mayor Insular and companions went to Barangay Itaw to check on his Teduray constituents displaced in the Dec. 31 burning of 13 houses by identified armed men, believed to be henchmen of a group trying to drive the ethnic tribe people from their ancestral lands.
Cabrera, quoting residents, said the mayor’s group spent two days at Barangay Itaw. On his way back to the town proper today, Jan.3, the mayor’s convoy was attacked with a roadside blast followed by gunfire shots on their vehicles.
Today’s incident was the third attempt on the life of the mayor. The first was staged on July 14, 2015 by armed men that fired a rocket-propelled grenade, but missed, while Insular’s convoy was cruising Kilometer 28 in neighboring North Upi town.
On June 23, 2020, an improvised bomb was exploded at the back of the town hall, while he was holding office. The blast shuttered window glasses at the mayor’s office, it was learned. AGM