THE Philippine National Police is looking for six persons of interest in the murder of Ako Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde made the revelation in a press briefing held at Camp Simeon Ola in Albay.
“Based on the update of the case, meron na pong binabantayan na six persons of interest ‘yung investigators natin and the whole PRO 5, and hopefully, meron tayong makuha rito sa six persons of interest,” Albayalde said.
The PNP chief said although not one of the six has been arrested, they are hoping that the investigation is moving.
He said they are not discounting the possibility of politics as the motive for the killing. Police are also looking into the possible involvement of the CPP-NPA in the killing of Batocabe.
With regard to the alleged involvement of a mayor, Albayalde said there was no substantial evidence that would link a mayor into the case but said the local chief executive could be a possible suspect.
“With regards doon sa sinasabi nila na linked ‘yung isang mayor, as of this time, wala pa tayong substantial evidence that will link him dito sa pangyayari na ito, but we are not discounting the fact, the possibility na pwede rin s’yang malink,” Albayalde said.
Albayalde also made clear that the recovery of two bodies in Daraga recently has nothing to do with the killing of Batocabe.
Right now, Albayalde said that the PNP could not find a witness in the Batocabe case because no one would volunteer information.
“I directed the director of the CIDG (Criminal Investigation and Detection Group) to be on top of the investigation. Medyo nahihirapan ang investigators natin dahil walang gustong magsalita roon sa lugar,” Albayalde said.
Batocabe, who was running for mayor of Daraga, Albay, was killed while he was walking to his vehicle after distributing Christmas giveaways for senior citizens on Saturday.
DISARM BODYGUARDS OF ALL ALBAY POLITICIANS
A COLLEAGUE of Batocabe asked the PNP to consider disarming bodyguards of all Albay politicians as local politics is being eyed as one of the reasons for the murder of the Bicol party-list solon.
Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin said most of Batocabe’s close relatives, friends, and political supporters believe that local politics is behind the killing.
Garbin said most of the local politicians in the Bicol region, particularly those from Daraga, are maintaining private armies.
“From day one, we already have one suspect in mind. The New People’s Army has already denied any hand in the murder of Cong. Batocabe and his security detail,” Garbin said.
Batocabe’s wife, Gertie, was convinced that politics was behind her husband’s murder.
The wife said her husband died on December 22, their wedding anniversary.
The National Bureau of Investigation have also backed politics as the motive for the killing of the Bicol solon.
Garbin said before Batocabe and his bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were gunned down, the latest poll surveys on the Daraga mayoralty race showed the lawmaker leading by 73 percent over his closest rival.
Batocabe is challenging Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete in the 2019 mayoralty post in Daraga.
Garbin urged the PNP to likewise recall all permits to carry firearms issued to private bodyguards of politicians to ensure swift and fair investigation of the Batocabe-Diaz killings.
P30-M FOR ARREST OF BICOL SOLON’S KILLERS
Batocabe’s colleagues in the House pledged more than P30 million for any information that would lead to the arrest of his killers.
The Bicol solon’s fellow lawmakers led by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez have raised a huge bounty for the capture of Batocabe’s assassins.
Included in the amount was the pledge of Ako Bicol Partylist to give P15 million while the Albay provincial government vowed to release P2 million for the arrest of the killers.
SON SEEKS DUTERTE’S HELP FOR JUSTICE
BATOCABE’ son, lawyer Justine Batocabe, and Garbin appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to help bring to justice the killers of the Bicolano party-list representative.
The son and the fellow lawmaker made the appeal in a press conference at the Ricardo Arcilla Hall of the Bicol University, Daraga Campus, where the wake for Batocabe started on December 24.
Batocabe’s son sought the intervention of the President as the police face a blank wall on the identity of the suspects and the motive for the killing.
They believed that there was no other possible reason for the slaying of Batocabe but politics.
With Jester Manalastas and Sonny Sales