A mayor and ally of President Rodrigo Duterte was shot dead by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, Tuesday afternoon, one day after Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City was killed by a sniper during a flag ceremony in Batangas.
Philippine National Police chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde said Mayor Ferdinand Bote, 57, of General Tinio town was ambushed while on board his Toyota Fortuner.
He was declared dead on arrival at the MV Gallego Hospital with multiple gunshot wounds.
“He was a party-mate. This is hurtful news for us,” said PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III. “The police must be visible. They must be able to solve these crimes. They must lessen the number of firearms in the country and start going after the unlicensed ones.”
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque assured the public the state would discharge its obligation in each murder.
“We will spare no effort in getting to the bottom of this latest violent crime,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that Albayalde would find the culprits and bring them to justice.
Police checkpoints were set up around Cabanatuan City as police investigated the killing.
Also on Tuesday, one of two motorcycle-riding men shot dead an escort of a lawmaker in Davao City’s Buhangin District.
Police said Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Sidik Amiril of Maguindanao’s Second District, was in a black Mazda pick-up truck, when a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire.
Amiril and two other civilian escorts survived the attack, but Berry Adas, seated in the back, was killed.
In the Senate, Duterte critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said there was no justification for Halili’s assassination, regardless of his alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.
He said the Philippines has become the “murder capital of Asia” after a spate of killings involving drug suspects, priests and public officials.
“President Duterte’s culture of violence is upon us. No one is safe now,” Trillanes said.
“Now, for someone who promised to restore peace and order in our country during the campaign, it is ironic for a lot of people that Duterte has actually turned the Philippines into the murder capital of Asia,” he said.
“But I am not surprised,” he said, noting that Duterte did the same thing in Davao City when he was mayor.
He called on decent members of the Philippine National Police to fulfill their mandate to protect citizens from criminals and to follow only legal orders.
“I also call on the CIDG and NBI to leave no stone unturned and bring to justice the perpetrators of this gruesome crime,” he further said.
Another opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, condemned Halili’s assassination.
She called on the PNP to launch a full investigation and bring all those responsible to justice.
“This is another murder that possibly rode on the wave of killings in the country. It could be directly attributed to the climate of killing and impunity created and nurtured by President Rodrigo Duterte, which has disturbingly devalued human life,” she said.
Political assassinations, like extrajudicial killings, are direct assaults on democracy, she said.
“They abandon modern procedural justice in favor of satisfying the lust for blood and violence. The President has brought us back to the dark ages,” she said.
“We are less safe than ever before. In fact, we are not safe at all. If mayors, other local government officials, and even priests can be killed in broad daylight, the threat to ordinary civilians is that much greater,” Hontiveros added.
Senator Leila de Lima, also a member of the minority bloc related that first Duterte came up with a narco-list of mayors and Local Government officials.
“Then he warned them that he would go after them and kill them. After that, the police came and killed one mayor inside his jail cell, and another inside his own home. His whole government goaded his tough talk and the killings,” said the detained senator.
Last week, she said Duterte told vice mayors who want to be mayor to save on their election campaign and just kill their mayor.
“Yesterday, a mayor was shot in broad daylight during a morning flag ceremony. Before the body even turns cold, he proclaims in a speech that the mayor who was shot dead was a suspected drug lord and saw it coming,” she said.
“Duterte may not have fired the gun that killed Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan, Batangas, but he most certainly murdered him with his words,” she said.
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