By Villamor Visaya Jr., Philippine News Agency Stringer and Philippine Daily Inquirer Correspondent

TUGUEGARAO CITY — A regional trial court here has issued a warrant of arrest against Vice Mayor Joel Ruma of Rizal town, Cagayan province who was linked to the murder of a town councilor in 2018.

Judge Vilma Pauig of the Regional Trial Court Branch 2 ordered the arrest of Ruma and five other people who were implicated in the killing. Ruma is running for mayor in the upcoming elections.

Maj. Raymund Baggayan, Rizal town police chief, said a manhunt operation was already underway to arrest Ruma and some of his alleged cohorts who remained at large. They were identified as Simeon Baloran, Jessie Labang, Dalden Guiyawan, Jose Batang and Jocel Sacayle.

Ruma, who could not be reached for comment, was not present during the unity walk and peace rally for local candidates on Monday.

The vice mayor was tagged as the mastermind in the killing of 64-year-old Alfredo Alvarez, who was shot dead by riding-in-tandem assailants, in this city.Current Time 0:44

Alvarez’s son, Franklin, later identified the gunmen as Labang and Baloran based on video footage from a security camera near the crime scene.

Labang and Baloran reportedly worked as security aides for Ruma.

Ruma and his cohorts were indicted for murder before the trial court in 2019.#