The vice mayor of Sapa Sapa town in Tawi-Tawi, Al Rashid Mohammad Ali, was gunned down by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Zamboanga City, making him the sixth local executive to be killed in 10 days.
The 53-year-old Ali was onboard his vehicle, a black Toyota Innova while traversing Governor Alvarez Avenue when he was shot twice by the still unidentified gunman during a traffic stop.
Ali, who sustained two gunshot wounds on the chest, was rushed to the Zamboanga Doctors’ Hospital where he died.
Prior to Ali’s murder, five politicians—including two mayors—in a span of six days, prompting the Philippine National Police to order a massive crackdown on gun-for-hire syndicates even as the Palace insisted that the killings were not systematic.
On July 2, Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas was killed while attending a flag ceremony at the city hall. A day after, Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija was repeatedly shot by a motorcycle-riding suspect while he was onboard his Toyota Fortuner in Cabanatuan City.
On July 7, Trece Martires City Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan and his driver Romulo Guillemer were killed by gunmen while traversing the Indang Road. On the same day, Zamboanga City councilor Michael Magallanes and Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur municipal councilor Nassif Bansil were also shot dead in separate incidents.
Halili was in the narco-list of President Rodrigo Duterte while Bote was a member of Duterte’s political party, the ruling PDP-Laban.
PNP chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde earlier said authorities are still investigating all possible angles to the killings of local officials.
“There are many angles that police are investigating in the recent killings like political motive, drugs, and other angles. We have also considered suggestions on the need for a massive crackdown against gun-for-hire groups and gun-running syndicates,” he said.
Albayalde also ordered police units to launch “early security measures” for next year’s midterm elections.
“In view of the recent killings of local chief executives, I am directing the command group and the regional directors to review and launch early security measures ahead of the 2019 midterm elections in May next year,” he said.
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