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Slain Mayor Talumpa possible victim of Zambo drug war

(Updated 3:58 p.m.) "Mayor, Mayor, para kay Kitty Nandang ito!" the killer of Ukol Talumpa was supposedly heard to have yelled before shooting the defenseless mayor of Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur on Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Kitty is the nickname of the notorious Wilson Nandang, a political rival and former mayor of the same town who has been on the government watch list for drug traffickers.

Justice Secretary Leila De Lima on Monday disclosed that rido (vendetta war) coupled with drug trafficking could be the motives for the daylight killings of Talumpa, his wife and two bystanders who happened to be nearby.
“They're really looking at the local political situation in that municipality of Labangan. [We’re looking at] the drug angle and then rido—interrelated lahat yan,” De Lima said in a chance interview with reporters.

In a separate letter to De Lima on Sunday, Rayyam Talumpa, the slain mayor's daughter, implicated  former Labangan Mayor Wilson "Kitty" Nandang in her father's ambush.
Citing an account from an eyewitness she did not identify, the younger Talumpa said her father's assailant was heard shouting, "Mayor, Mayor para kay Kitty Nandang ito."
She also identified the gunman as Marrox Amlong, whom she claimed "was closely associated with" Nandang.

Nandang on PDEA watch list
De Lima added she has confirmed that former Labangan Mayor Wilson "Kitty" Nandang, a known political rival of Talumpa, has been on the watch list of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
“Na-confirm ko from PDEA that indeed the former mayor of Labangan, Wilson Nandang, is a target listed personality in PDEA’s National Drug Information System. [He is] believed to be the leader of the Nandang-Afdal drug group,” she said.

De Lima said she made the call to check whether Nandang is involved in drug trafficiking following a TV interview given by Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles saying that the motive for Talumpa's assassination was drug-related. 
The justice chief explained that Afdal is Abu Bakar Afdal, another former mayor  of Labangan.
A third personality involved in the control of drugs in the area, a certain Yaser Nandang, was earlier arrested, De Lima said. 
“May pangtalo pa, si Yaser Nandang. But he was arrested in May 2013 by PDEA. He’s now in  [a] Davao jail,” she said.

Earlier in the day, De Lima sent a text message to reporters saying that the suspects in the killing of Talumpa and three others have previously enjoyed the protection of certain politicians in Mindanao. 

Anti-drugs campaign
De Lima noted that Talumpa was campaigning against illegal drugs in his municipality, something that may have angered the Nandang-Afdal drug group.
“The victim was battling illegal drugs in the area, so he’s been accusing the former mayor of really being involved in drugs,” De Lima said.
“'Yung tatlo na 'yan nandiyan sa listahan ng PDEA ay inaakusahan ng biktima na sila ang talagang involved sa drugs in the area,” De Lima added. 

The slain mayor's daughter also attributed her father's ambush to his campaign against illegal drugs.
"I think that the fault of my mother and father was their strong advocacy against illegal drugs in the municipality of Labangan," the younger Talumpa said in her letter to De Lima.
Political rivalry
At the same time, De Lima said that a conflict over the drug trade may have been escalated by the political rivalry between Nandang-Afdal and Talumpa.
“There is intense political rivalry between the victim and the former mayor. Sila 'yung nagkalaban sa local election,” she said 
Ridos, or clan feuds, are common in many parts of Mindanao. The US Agency for International Development and think tank Asia Foundation have said more than 3,000 people have been killed over the past seven decades in family feuds in the strife-torn region. 
Rido can involve disputes among family members or among two or more rival families, pitting neighbors or different ethnic groups against each other. The disputes center on issues of land, money, marriage or political power and involve revenge killing.

Previous attacks
It was earlier reported that Talumpa was the apparent target of a previous assassination attempt in September 2012. Talumpa, then Labangan vice mayor, was the target of a grenade attack in Pagadian City. He and his wife survived the attack, but his security officer was hurt.
In 2010, Talumpa was wounded along with his nephew Alimodin Silad after a shooting incident in Manila. They were leaving a building in downtown Manila in a car when they were shot.

Kin of slain mayor wants security
The daughter of Talumpa asked for government protection on Monday, citing "threats" her family has been receiving.
In her letter to de Lima, Rayyam asked the Department of Justice to immediately deploy security personnel for her family's protection.
"Since we have been receiving threats,... we would like to ask the DOJ to provide us the necessary assistance so that security personnel be fielded to secure us at the soonest possible time," the younger Talumpa said in the letter.
Last Friday, Mayor Talumpa and three others were shot dead at the loading bay of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3.

No deadline
At a press conference on Monday, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said President Benigno Aquino III did not impose a deadline to resolve the case.
But Lacierda said the President's order was to "find the culprit as expeditiously as possible, making sure that we have the evidence to pinpoint the particular culprit." 
"May mga lead, so we don’t want to just mention them lang, just to be sure lang. The PNP is on the ball looking for the possible culprits," he said.
On the other hand, Lacierda said that the government is already working on the improvements to be done in NAIA, specifically the installation of CCTVs.
"We don’t know the schedule yet. I don’t know the work schedule of Takenaka. I will confirm with NAIA general manager Honrado. But certainly that is one of the planned program of work to be done in the airport," he said. — With reports from Andreo C. Calonzo and Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ/KG/HS, GMA News