Twelve mayors and seven vice mayors were killed this year in various crimes recorded by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
We noted some considered high-profile including the latest murder of a party list congressman.
Tanauan Mayor Antonio Halili was gunned down in broad daylight during a flag raising ceremony in July. The incident was caught on live video posted on social media.
Four months after the incident, authorities still have no hint on the suspect.
“Unfortunately kahit na sa broad daylight, talagang masyadong walang klarong ebidensya to link some people,” explained PNP Spokesperson PCSupt. Benigno Durana Jr.
Halili was known for his controversial ‘shame campaign’ which paraded drug suspects on the streets of Tanuan City.
Halili, however, was among the personalities included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘narcolist’ of officials involved in illegal drugs.
Also in July, General Tinio Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote was also shot dead.
Unlike Halili’s case, the police were able to identify the mastermind in the crime in the person Christian Saquilabon who remained on the loose.
According to report, Bote was ordered killed by Saquilabon over a P96-million contract to develop a national park in his General Tinio, the second biggest municipality of Nueva Ecija.
Authorities consider politics as the motive behind the murder of Trece Martires, Cavite Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan on July 7 after he announced his bid for the mayoral race in 2019.
The following local executives were also killed allegedly for similar reason:
Vice Mayor Al-Rashid Mohammad Ali of Sapa Sapa, Tawi Tawi (July 11);
Mayor Mariano Blanco of Ronda, Cebu (September 5);
Mayor Alexander Buquing of Sudipen, La Union (October 1);
Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion of Balaoan, La Union (November 14);
The police are looking into several angles in these cases including their possible links in illegal drugs.
President Rodrigo Duterte once said he is determined to reward police personnel who will be able to neutralize any local official involved in illegal drugs.
Since he took office, a total of 12 mayors and 7 vice mayors were killed for various reasons under his administration.
The 2019 midterm polls in drawing near but the Philippine National Police (PNP) maintain that they will not augment yet their forces in areas with intense political rivalries as they are confident of the measures they already imposed.
“May nakita na tayong election hotspots. Na-identify na rin po natin iyon at tinitingnan din po natin iyan dahil we have the option to deploy our special action force,” said PCSupt. Benigno Durana, the PNP Spokesperson.
As always, the PNP reminds the public not to cast their vote for politicians involved in illegal drugs.
“They are not a blessing but a curse to our nation,” Durana concluded.
As for the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, authorities recorded over 5,000 deaths and over 164, 000 arrests this year.
The most controversial was the conviction of three Caloocan cops for killing 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos in an anti-drug operation.
These ‘bloodsheds’ have caused alarm to several human rights advocates but the government remains resolute in ending the criminality and the illegal drug menace in the country.
Just before the year ends, Ako Bicol Party list Congressman Rodel Batocabe was shot during a supposed solemn gift-giving activity in Barangay Burgos, Daraga, Albay.
Batocabe and his police escort, SPO1 Rolando Diaz, were declared dead on arrival at a hospital after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds.
Authorities are looking into politics and the New People’s Army (NPA) as behind the killing but until now, they have not identified any suspect yet despite testimonies from several witnesses. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)