Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell Yap on Friday admitted that he has received at least 50 death threats since being elected local chief executive, a post he has held for six years.
Yap had downplayed the threats and deemed these “normal for a politician” particularly during the election period, but on Thursday, he decided for the first time to report these to the Tagbilaran City Police Station.
“Ato ng gipa-blotter, gipa-record. Pero ka-isa pa ni, karon pa nato gipa-blotter,” he said.
According to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), 12 mayors in the country have been killed under the Duterte administration which started July, 2016. Two of the slain local chief executives were from Bohol—Buenavista Mayor Ronald Tirol and Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel.
The DILG data which indicated killings of 12 mayors and seven vice mayors was provided during the Senate committee on public order’s probe into political killings held earlier this month.
According to Yap, he received the most recent death threat on Thursday through a text message to his personal mobile phone.
“Mura’g di man siguro ako ra, tanan man siguro naa ani. Naa ang latest [death threat] nadawat gahapon,” said Yap.
Yap noted that the latest threat did not stand out from the rest, saying that he was only advised to record the incident on the police blotter.
“Di man g’yud ta mo kompyansa sukad pa sauna, bantay lang gihapon ta,” said Yap as he noted that the threats were believed to have been sent by multiple sources.
The mayor, scion of the Yap family which owns Bohol Tropics Resort, said that the threats could have emerged due to a variety of reasons including politics and business.
“Wa tay usang anggulo na gi tan-aw, bisag unsa lang siguro, daghan mang factors na pwede natong basehan…Gi-generalize ra nato, pwede pud sa business side,” he added.
Tagbilaran City however has had no recent history of major election-related violence.
This was confirmed by Tagbilaran election officer Atty. Ariel Selma who noted that province’s capital city has been relatively peaceful in the past elections.
“Kalooy sa Ginoo, dili man g’yud kaayo ka gubot diri sa Tagbilaran. Ok ra man, ba-ba ra dagko diri. Mag-away sa radyo. Pero bintaha nanang ngana,” he said.
Yap is now on his second term as mayor of Tagbilaran City and is running for reelection in the May, 2019 polls. (Allen Doydora and Weli Maestrado)