Malacañang on Tuesday condemned the killing of Calbayog City Mayor Ronaldo Aquino and four others, which, it said, could have been caused by local politics.

Aquino, his driver and an aide and two police officers were killed on Monday, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“There was an exchange of gunfire between the two groups that resulted in casualties on both sides,” PNP said in a statement.

“The mayor, his police escort, and his driver died, with one civilian employee wounded. In the other vehicle, two police personnel also died and one more wounded,” it added.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Aquino’s death was “alarming” as it could mark the start of election-related killings.

“Itong political violence po has no place in a democracy,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro