Up to P30M being raised as reward for arrest of Batocabe killers.
COLLEAGUES and supporters of murdered Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe are raising between P25 million to P30 million reward money, perhaps the biggest in Philippine history, for information leading to the capture of his killers and the masterminds.
Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin said on Sunday that at least P25 million was secured to expedite the arrest of the perpetrators of the cold-blooded murder of Batocabe and his bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, last Saturday afternoon as they were leaving a gift-giving event in Bgy. Burgos in Daraga, Albay.
Garbin said the Ako Bicol Party-list has pledged P15 million while Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara committed P2 million for the bounty pool.
“Initially we have gathered around P25 million to put up a bounty and help identity mastermind or masterminds immediately. In fact, it could reach P30 million,” said Garbin.
At the same time, Garbin said the Ako-Bicol Party-list group has also called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for the immediate disarmament of the armed goons of rival politicians in Daraga, Albay and the immediate removal of Supt. Charlotte Dodson Peñalosa, Regional Police and Security Protection Unit 5 (RPSPU5), Police Security and Protection Group (PSPG) chief, for her alleged incompetence and negligence.
According to sources close to Batocabe, who was running for mayor in Daraga town at the time of his death, Peñalosa allegedly pulled out the late lawmaker’s police escort days before the gruesome attack.
Negros Occidental Rep. Albee Benitez, president of the House Visayan Bloc who initiated the bounty drive, said members of the House of Representatives have generated at least P5 million as of yesterday and counting.
“That’s really possible (P25 million to P30 million) because at least 168 congressmen have committed to give at least P30,000 to put up a reward money for the speedy capture of the perpetrators. We are still counting,” said Benitez.
Benitez said they are hoping that people would start cooperating with the police investigation.
“We will be vigilant and will make sure that the investigation on the case would be impartial. We will not take this sitting down. It is an assault to our institution,” said Benitez.
Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lamented “life has become so cheap” after the murder of Batocabe and Diaz.
“That should not be so. Nothing can justify that gruesome murder. So I hope our authorities could conduct a thorough and speedy investigation,” Arroyo told reporters during her visit at the wake of Batocabe in Daraga.
“Enforcement is the best deterrent. As of now about 150 congressmen have already committed to put up a fund to get the killers. That really is the best way to get the killers,” said Arroyo.
“He (Batocabe) is very much loved in Congress both by the congressmen and non-congressmen. Maybe your colleagues in media will tell you that he is popular with the media. They often got him as ninong in the baptism or whatever religious celebrations they had. He was really very popular,” said Arroyo.
“He (Batocabe) was very, very active in the hearings. A very tough interrogator and also a very tough debater so he certainly did his part,” said Arroyo.
The remains of Batocabe, a lawyer and president of the 46-strong Party List Coalition (PLC), were brought to the Arcilla Hall, Bicol University, Daraga, Albay and his interment will be on December 31, 2018, also in Daraga, Albay.
A memorial service for Batocabe will be held at the House of Representatives on January 14, 2018.
According to its website, Batocabe, a full-fledged Iskolar ng Bayan, finished his Economics and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, both with honors.
Batocabe, a vice chairman of the House committees on dangerous drugs, on good government and public accountability, and on natural resources, also took his Master’s in Public Administration at UP.
He graduated valedictorian from Aquinas University Science Oriented High School.
As a working student while in law school, he worked in Congress as researcher and was eventually promoted as Legislative Staff Chief.
An advocate of various Bicolano causes, Batocabe, a former member of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET), has been very active in various Bicolano organizations since his college days.