POLICE are investigating the involvement of hired guns in the assassination of AKO Bikol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe and his policeman-bodyguard in Daraga, Albay around 3 p.m. Saturday, the Journal Group learned yesterday.
It turned out that apart from killing the lawmaker who is seeking the Daraga mayoralty seat in next year’s mid-term election and Senior Police Officer 2 Orlando Diaz, the gunmen also fired shots that wounded seven other innocent civilians attending the gift-giving activity for Persons with Disabilities and Senior Citizens at the covered court of Burgos Elementary School located in Purok 3, Barangay Burgos in Daraga.
The wounded victims were identified as Ellen Mansos, 63, who was shot on her left arm; Marina Mediavillo,78, who suffered a lump on her head following the ensuing stampede; Florencita Mendones, 67, shot on her left elbow; Haydie Llorca, 61, shot on her left chest; Gregorio Mediavillo, 79, who suffered gunshot wounds on his elbow and right hips; Jesus Medes, 73, shot on his left buttocks; and Nella Millena, 71.
The 52-year old Batocabe sustained eight gunshot wounds in the body while his bodyguard SPO2 Diaz,42, a member of the Police Security and Protection Group from Ligao City, Albay was shot twice in the head and once each in the left chest, abdomen, right leg and left leg.
Journal Group sources said that before he was killed, the lawmaker had complained to the local police the presence of a Partisan Armed Group allegedly under the employ of his main rival, incumbent Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo.
The erstwhile Daraga Vice-Mayor, Baldo took over as mayor of the municipality following the death of elected mayor Jerry Jaucian who died after a long battle with lung cancer.
Rep. Batocabe’s complaint is already being investigated by the Police Regional Office 5 headed by Chief Superintendent Arnel B. Escobal who also ordered the relief of the Daraga Municipal Police Station chief, Supt. Benito Dipad in the aftermath of last Saturday’s incident.
Supt. Dennis Balla was named as new Daraga police chief.
Escobal said their initial investigation showed that Rep. Batocabe and his bodyguard were about to go to his vehicle when the gunmen who mingled with the crowd opened fire at them. Police are looking into the involvement of at least six gunmen in the attack.
Escobal said the killing would further deepen their resolve to neutralize all PAGs and guns-for-hire which are known for sowing terror every election period in the region.
“We are doubling our campaign to account for guns-for-hire, PAGs and loose firearms in Bicol as part of our effort to keep the forthcoming May election as peaceful as possible,” the PRO5 director said.
In 2012, a mayoral candidate in Malinao, Albay, former Makati City Engineer Nelson Morales was shot dead by suspected members of a PAG being operated by his rival.
Presence of PAGs in the provinces of Masbate, Camarines Sur and Camarines Norte have long been a problem in Bicol which also has its history of election-related violence.