Peace advocates yesterday urged the Philippine National Police to focus on other unresolved political killings particularly in La Union province, following the quick resolution of the murder of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his security escort.
The Crusaders for Peace congratulated the PNP for quickly resolving the assassination of Batocabe in Daraga, Albay province on Dec. 22, 2018. The group said this enhanced the credibility of the national police under the leadership of Director General Oscar Albayalde in resolving crimes.
In May 12 last year, former La Union Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, his two aides and a supporter were killed by gunmen who attacked them as they were attending a Sangguniang Kabataan meeting in Barangay Capas in Agoo municipality.
Last Oct. 1, assassins shot dead Sudipen Mayor Alexander Buquing, his policeman-bodyguard and a driver during a daring attack that also wounded the mayor’s wife, Vice Mayor Wendy Joy Buquing.
Three weeks after Buquing was murdered, gunmen killed Balaoan, La Union Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion and wounded his daughter, Mayor Aleli Concepcion.
In these three incidents, the local police suspected that guns-for-hire working for political rivals of the victims were behind the deadly attacks.
However, the local police are yet to announce any progress into the investigation of these incidents.
The killings came in the wake of the PNP leadership’s directive for a massive crackdown against partisan armed groups, guns-for-hire and loose firearms that could be used to sow terror during the May mid-term polls.
Before Eriguel’s death, several PNP officials pulled out the Eriguel family’s security detail one by one.
His widow, Rep. Sandra Y. Eriguel believes that the murder was politically motivated.
She said that while the former La Union police officials were relieved of their posts, the mastermind behind the slaying of his husband remained at large, and threats and harassments continue from the goons of their rival politicians.
Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque called for the resolution of the murder cases in La Union and the declaration of the province as an election hot spot.
Roque, a law professor, also cited the need to reform the justice system to prevent the spread of violence in the Philippines.
The Crusaders for Peace said the government should focus its attention on La Union to stop the spread of violence in the province.
“We want to live in a peaceful community. We hate violence. Please stop the killings,” the group said.
Fourteen out of 19 cases of politicians, mostly local chief executives murdered since 2016, have been solved by the PNP. Latest to be solved by police is the case of Batocabe and his policeman-bodyguard.
A dozen days after the daring attack which also wounded 7 senior citizens, Albayalde declared that “the case is solved but not closed” following the identification of Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo as the brains behind the killing.
Albayalde has ordered massive operations against gun-for-hire syndicates and private armed groups across the country and also encouraged local executives to coordinate with the local police if they feel their lives are in danger.
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