PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday visited the wake of slain Ako Bicol party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe even as he increased the bounty for any information about the killers of the congressman and his security detail to P50 million from the previous P30 million raised by Batocabe’s colleagues at the House of Representatives, Ako Bicol party-list and provincial government of Albay.
“There are leads according to the police. I’m not at liberty really to talk about it because it would be incomplete,” Duterte told reporters after his visit.
“So, if I say politically-motivated, it could be a politician, it could be the mayor, it could the governor, or a barangay captain. But my favorite name now is mayor. But I’m not saying who that mayor is,” Duterte said.
Batocabe’s wife, Gerti, earlier said her husband could have been killed due to politics.
Batocabe and his police escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were gunned down by unidentified armed men after a Christmas gift-giving event in Daraga, Albay on Saturday.
The Philippine National Police has created a special task group to investigate the killing but PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said that witnesses in the incident were scared to come forward.
Batocabe was running for Daraga, Albay mayor in the upcoming midterm elections before he was killed.
The late lawmaker was supposed to challenge incumbent Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete in the next year’s mayoral election.
DIGONG WANTS DARAGA UNDER COMELEC CONTROL
THE President urged the Commission on Elections to place Daraga town in Albay under its control following the killing of Batocabe.
Duterte has conveyed his recommendation to Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas.
Previous Comelec resolutions state that the poll body may place an area under its control on the grounds of intense political rivalry between or among candidates and presence of paramilitary forces and private armies.
Under Comelec control, the poll body shall exercise full control and supervision over all national and local enforcement agencies and military officers and men assigned in the area concerned.
Duterte’s suggestion came after Sen. Nancy Binay asked the Comelec to declare Albay an election hotspot to guarantee the safety of every resident in the province while Sen. Panfilo Lacson urged the Philippine National Police to impose stricter gun control measures.
The President, meanwhile, said he will not allow “political terrorism, oppression and intimidation” to take place in the light of the upcoming 2019 midterm elections.
“But if you are the one na gumagawa ng kalokohan, pinapatay ‘yung mga kalaban, p—ina mo pupuntahan kita rito. I will personally confront you,” Duterte said.
“‘Pag hindi tayo nagkaintindihan, sampalin kita dito sa harap ng… At kung may ebidensya ‘ko, kaladkarin kita,” he added.
NPA URGED TO HELP ARREST BATOCABE ASSASSINS
DUTERTE has challenged the New People’s Army to help arrest the perpetrators in the murder of Batocabe and his police escort.
Duterte made the statement after the communist National Democratic Front of the Philippines-Bicol Region denied speculations that the NPA may have a hand in the killings.
Six persons of interest in the killings have already been identified by the police.
With Sonny Sales