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Batocabe murder: Rody gives hint on mastermind

Raises bounty to P50 million

President Rodrigo Duterte hinted at knowing the mastermind of the killing of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe—saying it could be a mayor—even as he raised the reward to P50 million for information leading to the arrest of the killers after visiting the lawmaker’s wake Wednesday evening.

Batocabe murder: Rody gives hint on mastermind
PRESIDENTIAL SYMPATHY. President Rodrigo Duterte condoles with Gertie, widow of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, as the Chief Executive attends Wednesday the solon’s wake at the Bicol University in Daraga, Albay. Duterte raised the bounty from P30 million to P50 million for the arrest of the suspects. Malacañang Photo
“I almost forgot... The reward [for the capture of Batocabe’s assailants] is at this time is P30 million. I’m raising the ante. I’m putting it at plus P20 million to P50 million,” Duterte told reporters.

“You only need to tip us. Just give a tip. You don’t need to expose them. Don’t even give names,” he said, adding that one only need to buy an outdated and cheap phone and prepaid sim to tip the government off about the assailants.

Duterte was originally scheduled to visit Batocabe’s wake Wednesday afternoon but arrived midnight.

The President said the police already have some leads but declined to offer any details.

“It could be anybody. When I say politically motivated, it could be the mayor, governor. But my favorite name now is the mayor. But I’m not saying who that mayor is,” he said.

The President said he would not allow political terrorism, oppression, and intimidation to persist in the country as the 2019 midterm elections draw near.

Furious about the incident, Duterte warned the perpetrators that he would “personally confront” the person behind the killing.

 “If we did not meet halfway, I will slap you. If I have evidence, I will really drag you. You better behave, act like an angel. Don’t you ever threaten or kill people because I will not allow it,” he said, emphasizing that all the locals in the whole Bicol region and the congressman’s widow know the man behind Batocabe’s death.

“I have my reasons to suspect the guy. Don’t do that because you cannot threaten all the people with that. So, when this incident backfired at you, I will come back here to humiliate you. You know what, I will go to your house and slap you. If you want to try it, do one more of your mischief. If I got infuriated, f*** *** I will shoot you,” Duterte warned.

Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said they already have six persons of interest, but none of them have been arrested.

READ: Cops claim break in Batocabe slay

Batocabe, 52, was distributing Christmas gifts in his hometown of Daraga, Albay when he and his police escort were gunned down by still unidentified assailants.

The slain politician was planning to run for mayor in the upcoming elections.

Duterte on Wednesday called on the Commission on Elections to place Daraga town in Albay under its control following the murder of Batocabe.

To ensure peace and order amid the lawlessness and violent crimes during the election period, Duterte said he phoned Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas to implement his directive.

The President said he told Abas to impose a two-bodyguard limit for each politician, a policy enforced by former Interior Secretary Rafael Alunan.

“Let’s go back to the Alunan doctrine that no candidate should strut around with bodyguards with long firearms. That’s prohibited. Only the police and the military. All others, none. Except when you are granted a permit to carry by the Comelec,” he said.

He also ordered the Armed Forces to set up checkpoints in the area to provide security during the election season.

“My directive to the police and military is f*** it, kill them. Let’s try. Make my police and soldiers look dumb and oppose the checkpoints because you’re a governor or mayor, then f*** ***,” he said.

“When they defy the order to stop at checkpoints, shoot them. That’s it, it’s simple,” he continued.

“So, we will provide security for everybody, including the people who’d be attending rallies and meetings.”

The President then reiterated his warning to politicians against resorting to violence to get rid of their political opponents.

Among the opponents, Batocabe was supposed to face in the mayoralty race are incumbent town Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete.

UNTV, meanwhile, reported that police who revisited the crime scene said Batocabe was shot at close range, and that the gunmen used two types of firearms, caliber 40 and caliber 45 handguns.

A congressman on Thursday warned that the failure of law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest Batocabe’s killers would result in more political killings as the midterm elections draw near.

Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop, chairman of the House committee on public order and safety, added that even if the killers were to be arrested now, “the snail-paced judicial process in the country will “further encourage or give confidence to criminals to target more politicians.”

“If they [guns-for-hire] can get away with the murder of Congressman Rodel and his security aide, this might embolden them to assassinate more politicians, including well-known political leaders. They would think it’s easy to kill a congressman,” Acop, a retired police director, said.

“Unfortunately, criminals have taken advantage of the failure of our authorities to bring immediate justice to most of the victims of criminal activities,” Acop added.

The House led by Visayan Bloc leader, Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, issued a statement, saying the “act of violence inflicted on Rep. Batocabe is an assault on Congress itself as an institution and those involved must not go unpunished.”

“We express our collective outrage not only in behalf of the family of Rep. Batocabe and SPOI Diaz, but also in the name of all citizens who are victims of heinous crimes,” the House members said.

Senator Richard Gordon urged the police to act swiftly.

“There is a culture of violence and impunity that must be stopped immediately by ensuring that the police and the people are reminded that we are a country that follows the rule of law. Such appears to have been forgotten as shown by violent events that occurred in the past 10 days,” Gordon said.

The senator was referring to the series of shootings and killings reported across the country starting Dec. 14, such as the ambush of Councilor Ricardo Tan and his wife in Negros Occidental on Dec. 14; an attack on lawyer Erfe del Castillo and Elfren Palmares while they driving along the Bacolod-Silay Airport Access Road also in Negros Occidental on Dec. 22; the killing of Ariel Vicencio, son of former Malabon Mayor Amado Vicencio, and the wounding of two of his companions by a gunman who escaped on board a motorcycle at 3 a.m. in Malabon City; and Batocabe’s murder on Dec. 22.

The House minority block appealed for sobriety and honest, violence-free elections.

The bloc’s leader, Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, made the call in light of Batocabe’s murder on Saturday.

“Congressman Rodel was set to run as mayor in Daraga in the coming 2019 elections. In this context, the minority states that there is no place for violence in the exercise of suffrage and democracy,” Suarez said at a news conference Thursday.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , Ako Bicol Party-list , Rodel Batocabe , Oscar Albayalde
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