Investigators are working to determine the possibility of a political motive as the two mayors were reportedly running in May 9 elections.
Motorcycle-riding gunmen have killed a town mayor and wounded another in a brazen attack that also killed their driver and caused villagers to flee to safety in a coastal village in the southern Philippines.
Mayor Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka town was killed and Mayor Alih Sali of Akbar town was wounded by at least two men on Monday armed with pistols while walking in Zamboanga city shortly after arriving on a speedboat from their island province of Basilan, police said.
A bodyguard of the two mayors was wounded and a driver who came to pick them up was killed.
Investigators were trying to identify the two gunmen and two companions who escaped on motorcycles and determine their motive, including the possibility that it involved a political rivalry.
The two mayors were reportedly running in May 9 elections.
Philippine elections have been marred in the past by bloody feuds and accusations of cheating, especially in rural regions with weak law enforcement and a proliferation of unlicensed firearms and private armies.
Filipino voters will choose a president and vice president, alongside more than 300 lawmakers and thousands of local government officials, in polls due to be held on May 9.
The list of major presidential candidates is boxer-turned-Senator Manny Pacquiao, the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Marcos Jr., actor and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Duterte’s longtime aide, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, former police chief and now Senator Panfilo Lacson and Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition.
Current President Rodrigo Duterte is ineligible for re-election in the 2022 general election as he is limited to a single term under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
However, Duterte filed his candidacy in November for a Senate seat in next year’s elections, walking back his vow to retire from politics when his term ends and prompting rights groups to say he is working to evade accountability for his deadly anti-drug campaign while in office.
Duterte’s successor will have to grapple with reviving an economy shaken by the pandemic.