Rep. Vicente Belmonte, a congressman from Iligan in Misamis Oriental province in the country's south, was wounded Thursday afternoon after his convoy was attacked by gunmen, who killed at least two of his aides and two police officers, local media reports said. The incident reportedly took place a few miles away from the province's Laguindingan Airport.
Belmonte reportedly said, in an interview, that he was ambushed soon after he left the airport and also claimed that the attack was politically motivated, local media reported. Belmonte’s convoy was blocked by a van carrying the gunmen who began shooting at the congressman and his aides, The Associated Press reported. Authorities are reportedly investigating the incident and are trying to identify the gunmen.
Police chief Brian Inojaldo said five other bodyguards and aides of Belmonte were also injured in the ambush. The victims of the attack reportedly died of gunshot wounds, local media reports said.
Belmonte did not receive any life-threatening injuries in the attack and only sustained minor wounds on his hands, Rejoice Subejano, his chief of staff, said according to GMA Network, a local news outlet. Subejano also reportedly said that Belmonte somehow managed to avoid being shot because one of his aides shielded him from the shots.
“He was brought to Laguindingan hospital for a check-up to ensure he is fine,” she said, according to GMA Network.
The attack was reportedly condemned by House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, who also urged authorities to identify those responsible for the ambush.
“We’re shocked. We condemn in the strongest terms the attack on Congressman Belmonte. We call on authorities to get to the bottom of these and ensure that justice will be served,” he said.