SURIGAO CITY - Surigao del Norte Governor Sol F. Matugas survived an assassination attempt, allegedly carried out by a former barangay official of this city, Monday morning.
Although Matugas was unhurt in the incident, which happened during flag-raising ceremonies at the provincial capitol, two of her security escorts, one of them seriously, and a security guard at the Hall of Justice were wounded and are being treated at a private hospital.
Police Officer 2 Ronie Febra Golez, 32, suffered the worst injuries, hit in the chest, right upper arm and left side of the neck. His fellow security escort, PO2 Jerson Camingue Guidulman was hit in the leg, while security guard Raymar Quinonez, 38, was hit in the right shoulder.
All three were rushed to the Surigao Medical Center.
Provincial police director, Senior Superintendent Roel Obusan said Golez “is now in critical condition and hopefully within today, he will be immediately be airlifted to Cebu.”
The suspect, identified by police as Samuel Lapac, a former council member of Barangay Luna in this city, was slightly wounded in the right shoulder as he traded shots with Matugas’ bodyguards.
He was taken to the hospital but was discharged around 11:30 a.m. and is now detained at the Surigao City police office.
Sources at the capitol, who asked not to be named, said Matugas has recovered from the shock of the incident and was back at work, president over the regular Monday meeting of department heads.
A capitol worker close to the governor said Matugas was walking near the Hall of Justice toward the Provincial Convention Center, where she was to hold a sharing session with provincial government employees, when Lapac casually walked towards her and opened fire.
Another capitol employee said he saw Lapac draw a .45 caliber pistol, prompting him to shout a warning about the armed man.
One of Matugas’ escorts shielded her and took the first bullet.
When he fell, the other stepped in and fired back at Lapac but was also wounded.
Police recovered five empty shells at the scene of the incident.
One of the sources said Matugas’ staff and bodyguards did not mind Lapac’s presence since he is a common sight at the capitol and was even wearing a Barong Tagalog at the 8 o’clock flag ceremony.
Obusan said Lapac was charged with illegal possession of firearms last year but is out on bail “after his attorney filed a motion that the suspect was mentally impaired.”
“We are still trying to determine the motive behind the assassination attempt and investigate further if there are others involved in the crime,” he said.
Newly installed Caraga regional director Chief Superintendent Carmelo E. Valmoria ordered additional security for Matugas and created a task group headed by Superintendent Ruben Andiso, the deputy provincial police director, to investigate the incident.