BARANGAY SAN JULIAN WEST, Agoo, La Union --- The solemn observance of Good Friday in the household of Tess Dumpit-Michelena in this coastal barangay was shattered by gunfire by a group of more than a dozen armed men led by former Agoo mayor Eufranio Eriguel.
Eriguel, armed with an Uzi machine pistol and accompanied by armed goons and a police escort fired at the Michelena house for no less than 10 minutes in spite of appeals by household members and two policemen securing the house.
He is the husband of Agoo Mayor Sandra Eriguel, who was unseated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after Tess Dumpit-Michelena filed a protest and a recount was undertaken.
Sandra Eriguel is running against Tess Dumpit-Michelena in the Agoo mayoral race while Eufranio Eriguel is up against Michelena’s brother in contest for the congressional seat in the second district of La Union.
No one among the 20 teeners and 30 neighbors in the house was hurt by the indiscriminate shooting.
Witnesses claimed the attack was a case of a botched Good Friday massacre.
Not even the presence of the Bombo Radyo team of Bombo Romy and Bombo Abs at the house deterred Eriguel, who shouted threats even as he and his gang fired.
Earlier proclaimed as the winner in the mayoral race of 2007, Tess Dumpit-Michelena escorted Albert Gali at 10:30 a.m. to file a report with the Agoo police about his being manhandled by Eriguel and Ebong Regacho at 8:30 a.m. as he talked with a former classmate in Barangay San Vicente.
Luckily, the visitors who were about to take their late lunch were herded into the bedrooms before Eriguel’s group came on board several vehicles.
Two police escorts assigned to Mrs. Michelena initially tried to approach Eriguel but were cursed instead, with the former mayor aiming his firearm at them. This prompted the law enforcers to seek cover inside the house.
Not content with merely shooting up the house, the attackers also exploded dynamites, which traumatized the children and guests of the Michelenas.
The attackers fled when Agoo police director Chief Inspector Julio Gorospe arrived at the request of Tess Michelena.
Witnesses to the incident identified the attackers led by Eriguel.
Gorospe has been relieved as Agoo police chief for failing to apprehend the attackers.
In his complaint-affidavit, Cris T. Michelena, husband of Tess Dumpit-Michelena and three other witnesses, identified the attackers as ex-mayor Frany Eriguel, brothers Edgar and Lando Fontanilla, Bobby Ordinario, Ebong Ragacho, Edgar Morales, Ryan Oller alias Taruk, and two PNP elements assigned to the ex-mayor eventually identified as a certain Cerra and Lachica.
“They are the Ampatuans in this area,” Michelena said. “They have killed their own cousins, shot at their own people on deals gone bad, and are starting a program of bloody vendetta against the people of Agoo who no longer support them. Their oppression and violence against others has gone on unchecked for years,” he added.
Responding Scene of Crime Operations (SOCO) elements found spent 9 mm and .45 caliber shells outside the house and bullet holes on the walls of the house. No shells were found inside the house, proving the Michelenas did not fire back, contrary to allegations that it was a firefight.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Jesus Verzosa and the regional director Chief Supt. Constante Azares have formed a Task Force San Julian West to investigate the case and bring the culprits to answer for the attack.