CURFEW HOURS. Mayor Bernie Palencia of Polomolok town, South Cotabato province, has ordered a curfew in the municipality following rising criminal activities. The 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew hours will take effect Friday (March 24, 2023). (Photo from Office of Mayor Bernie Palencia)

POLOMOLOK, South Cotabato – Mayor Bernie Palencia has issued an order implementing curfew hours in this town as part of preventive measures against crimes.

In a statement Friday, the mayor said curfew hours starts from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Palencia issued the order on Thursday, six days after unidentified gunmen shot and injured his executive assistant, Rhyolite Balili, near the town hall.

“The order exempts persons who, for work, emergency and humanitarian reasons, need to be outside their homes provided that they show proper identification (ID) cards,” he said of the new order that takes effect Friday.

Minors may be allowed to go out of their houses during curfew hours for medical emergencies or other valid reasons provided they are accompanied by an adult family member or relative within a fourth civil degree with valid IDs.

Palencia told reporters that the implementation of curfew hours is, foremost, intended to curb the rising cases of crime that included that of his executive aide.

On March 17, Balili was about to report for work at 11 a.m. when two motorcycle-riding men opened fire at his car just before he was about to enter the town hall gate.

Balili, a former town councilor, is now recuperating at a hospital in General Santos City.

“I believe I was the target, and that it is politically motivated,” Palencia said without elaborating or naming names.

In January this year, three members of the town’s Civil Security Unit were also separately shot dead. The cases remain unsolved.  

Meanwhile, town police chief, Lt. Col. Joseph Forro III, said another preventive measure the local government unit and police are implementing is the lifting of the “No helmet, No travel” policy around the town center.

Forro also announced that police now have the facial identities of the suspects who shot Balili.

“They were gun-for-hire and not from Polomolok,” Forro said, without divulging further details.

Palencia has earlier offered a PHP500,000 reward for anybody who can provide the police with information that could lead to the arrest of the two suspects in the Balili shooting. (PNA)