Lawmakers are planning to raise up to P30 million to offer as a bounty for information leading to the arrest of the killers of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe
, a member of his party-list group said Sunday.
Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin on Sunday pledged P15 million as a reward and said other members of Congress have raised another P5 million. Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara also pledged P2 million that would go to the bounty pool.
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Batocabe and his police bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were shot dead Saturday afternoon
as they were leaving a gift-giving event in Barangay Burgos in Daraga town, Albay.
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, head of the Visayan bloc in the House, initiated the bounty drive and said the final figure could reach P30 million.
“That’s really possible because at least 168 congressmen have committed to give at least P30,000 to put up reward money for the speedy capture of the perpetrators. We are still counting,” Benitez said.
Benitez said they hope that people would start cooperating with the police who are conducting the investigation.
“We will be vigilant and will make sure that the investigation [is] impartial. We will not take this sitting down. It is an assault on our institution,” Benitez said.
Ako Bikol has called on the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to immediately disarm the armed groups of rival politicians in Daraga. It has also called for the immediate removal of Psupt. Dodson Penalosa, for her “incompetence and negligence.”
Sources close to Batocabe said Penalosa pulled his police escort days before his assassination.
Bicol police said Sunday that the police chief of Albay town, Supt. Benito Dipad Jr. has been relieved while the murder is being investigated.
Chief Inspector Maria Luisa Calubaquib, spokesperson of the task force on the Batocabe murder, said the driver of the congressman’s vehicle said there could have been up to six suspects in the killing, noting that there were three motorcycles waiting just before the attack.
In an interview with radio dzBB, Calubaquib said Batocabe suffered four gunshot wounds from the back, not eight.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra ordered the NBI to conduct a parallel probe into the killing and to assist the police investigating the case.
“Initial investigation by NBI agents suggests that the attack was likely politically motivated. A thorough inspection of the crime scene will be conducted soon in coordination with the PNP,” Guevarra said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said his panel would also investigate the assassination.
“At the rate, murder is being committed with impunity, it’s time for the PNP to impose stricter gun control measures,” Lacson said, including the suspension of permits to carry firearms outside of residences.
For a start, he said, the PNP should suspend all permits, and anyone in civilian clothes carrying firearms must be assumed to have criminal intent and arrested on the spot.
He said such a policy should include PNP officers who are not in uniform.
Lacson said his panel’s investigation would include the killing of:
• General Tinio (Nueva Ecija) Mayor Ferdinand Bote, who was shot dead inside his vehicle in an ambush (July 3)
• Radio anchorman Joey Llana, gunned down by men with automatic firearms in Daraga, Albay, while on his way to work (July 20)
• Lawyer Rafael Atotubo, 62, gunned down in Bacolod City by motorcycle-riding assailants (Aug. 24)
• Former barangay councilor Pepe Baccay, gunned down in Tumauini town in Isabela province (Aug. 25)
• Ricardo Aparicio, husband of Clarin (Bohol) Vice Mayor Velden Aparicio (Sept. 2)
• Ronda (Cebu) Mayor Mariano Blanco III, killed gangland-style by armed men who barged into his office while he was sleeping there (Sept. 5)
• Sudipen, La Union Mayor Alexander Buquing, gunned down in Bangar town by assailants riding a pickup truck (Oct. 1)
• Human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos Jr., 56, a founding member of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, shot dead in front of a convenience store in Kabankalan City in Negros Occidental (Nov. 6)
• Balaoan (La Union) vice mayor Alfred Concepcion, who died along with aide Michael Ulep, in an ambush (Nov. 14).
• Former Bayambang, Pangasinan Councilor Levin Uy, who was shot dead while jogging (Nov. 16).
• Businessman Dominic Sytin, gunned down outside a hotel in Subic Bay Freeport (Nov. 28)
• Richard Santillan, former aide of former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong, who was gunned down in an alleged shootout (Dec. 10). Police said he was killed in a shootout in Cainta but the Public Attorney’s Office said he was tortured before being killed.
• Senior Inspector Porferio Gabuya Jr., gunned down by motorcycle-riding assailants in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental (Dec. 19). Gabuya was deputy chief of police for operations of the Guihulngan City police.
“When persons in authority are now being killed in a brazen manner—in broad daylight and in full public view--that is cause for concern. If these personalities who have security details are not safe, what more the ordinary Filipino?” Lacson said.
Batocabe was on his last term in Congress and was running for mayor in Daraga, Albay.
Earlier, he had warned that rivals in the mayoral race were using armed groups to influence the votes.
The remains of Batocabe, a lawyer and president of the 46-strong Party List Coalition (PLC), were brought to Arcilla Hall, Bicol University in Daraga. He will be buried on Dec. 31, 2018, also in Daraga.
A memorial service for Batocabe will be held at the House of Representatives on Jan. 14, 2018.
Batocabe, a full-fledged Iskolar ng Bayan, finished his Economics and Bachelor of Laws degrees at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, both with honors.
Batocabe, a vice chairman of the House committees on dangerous drugs, on good government and public accountability, and on natural resources, also took his Master’s in Public Administration at UP.
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