MANILA, Philippines – Former Lamitan mayor Rosita “Rose” Furigay was among at least three persons killed in a shooting incident inside Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City on Sunday, July 24.
Furigay was supposed to attend the Ateneo Law School graduation ceremony of her daughter, Hannah Furigay. The ex-mayor’s security detail Victor George Capistrano, and Ateneo security guard Jeneven Bandiala were killed in the incident, while Hannah was wounded and rushed to the Quirino Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City.
The Quezon City Police Department later confirmed that cops nabbed suspect Chao Tiao Yumol along Aurora Boulevard.
In 2007, former Basilan representative Wahab Akbar was killed in a bombing incident as he walked out of a lobby at the House of Representatives. Furigay is the second Basilan leader to be killed in Quezon City.
Who is Rosita Furigay? Here are some things to know.
Political clan in Basilan
Furigay hails from a political clan in Lamitan, Basilan. Rosita, or Rose, won her third term as mayor of Lamitan in 2019, while her husband Roderick served as her vice mayor. The couple won unopposed.
The Furigays have been politically entrenched in Lamitan even before it was categorized as a city on June 18, 2007. As a city, it has never known a mayor other than the Furigays in almost two decades.
Roderick was the city’s first mayor. He served three full consecutive terms from 2004 to 2013, and was succeeded by Rosita, who served until 2022. Roderick again assumed the position in the last May 2022 elections.
Their nephew, Hegem Furigay, succeeded Roderick for the vice mayorship.
Before joining politics, she managed her own business and graduated cum laude with a degree in pharmacy from San Carlos University in Cebu City.
During Rosita Furigay’s nine-year term as mayor, Lamitan was a consistent recipient of the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s Seal of Good Local Governance award for four consecutive years.
Under her watch, Lamitan bagged several other awards, local and national, having implemented unprecedented infrastructure projects and having championed the delivery of basic social and health services to the city’s 45 barangays.
For the Lamiteños, Furigay was regarded as a mother figure with a big heart, especially for the poor.
Former vice president Leni Robredo said in a Facebook post after the shooting that the Furigay couple were “strong supporters” of the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) Angat Buhay program when Robredo was in office.
Robredo said that Furigay provided the land in Barangay Buahan where the OVP put up its Yakan Weaving Center.
Furigay, a Christian, took steps toward countering Islamic extremism in her province. After a bombing incident in Lamitan on July 31, 2018, Furigay ordered local police and the military to further strengthen security in the city.
The late ex-mayor was staunchly against the Abu Sayyaf, but she dealt with them by offering livelihood opportunities and using dialogue.
“Kahit sabi nila maraming mga conflict dito [ang mga Kristiyano at Muslim], we are living in harmony (Contrary to what people say, we are living in harmony),” Furigay said in a 2017 piece of The GUIDON, the official student publication of the Ateneo.
On Sunday, July 24, Furigay’s legal counsel Quirino Esguerra said in an interview with ABS-CBN that the shooting might be rooted in a personal grudge of the suspect, Dr. Chao Tiao Yumol, against the former mayor that could be traced all the way to 2018.
In 2018, Furigay ordered the closure of Yumol’s infirmary clinic because it was operating without a permit from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
In response, Esguerra said that Yumol “posted malicious insinuations” against the Furigay couple and the local government employees of Lamitan. Esguerra also said in the same interview with ABS-CBN reporter Katrina Domingo that it led to the Furigays filing more than 70 cyber libel cases against Yumol.
In 2019, Yumol surrendered to police authorities for the cybercrime cases filed against him.
Furigay’s legal counsel also told Domingo that the slain mayor was supposed to attend a hearing for the libel cases in Davao City scheduled for Monday, July 25.
In a press briefing, QCPD director Police Brigadier General Remus Medina said that Yumol could not continue his medical practice while the libel cases were ongoing, which could have been one of the doctor’s motivations for killing Furigay. – with reports from Michelle Abad, Lorenz Pasion, Richard Falcatan, Herbie Gomez/Rappler.com