Baldo behind bars is still Daraga mayor – DILG Bicol

ALBAY, Philippines – Carlwyn Baldo will continue to function as mayor of Daraga, Albay, even while in detention, pending inquest into charges against him and, after that, the decision of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).  

Multiple murder charges were filed against Baldo last week for allegedly masterminding the killing last December of party-list congressman Rodel Batocabe and the latter's police escort. Batocabe was running against Baldo in the 2019 mayoral race.

On Tuesday, January 22, however, during a police raid on his compound, Baldo was found in possession of unlicensed firearms, thus the arrest. Inquest should be done within 36 hours after his arrest, but this has yet to happen because the local chief executive was rushed to the hospital on Wednesday due to an asthma attack 

“Mayor Carlwyn Baldo will remain as chief executive of Daraga while we are waiting for inquest proceeding,” Anthony Nuyda, DILG Bicol regional director, said on Wednesday, January 23. 

“Usually [in cases like this] the vice mayor will succeed the mayor, but because Daraga is under Comelec control, we will wait for the Commission on Elections' decision. The Comelec needs to convene to discuss this matter,” Nuyda said in an interview.

Lawyer Maria Juana Valeza of Comelec Bicol said, like DILG's Nuyda, that Baldo would remain mayor pending inquest proceedings.

From his quarters inside the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) office in Bicol, Baldo was brought to the University of Santo Tomas Hospital in Legazpi City, and has not been released. 

The CIDG in Manila told Rappler that it would be up to the DILG to declare if Baldo is incapacitated to govern as mayor.

While in the hospital on Wednesday, the mayor was posted to his Facebook page, reminding personnel of the local government unit to go about their work as usual. 

“On the basis of one of my constitutional rights, presumption of innocence as suspect for violation of RA 10591, I am directing all department heads, chief of offices, and other personnel of LGU-Daraga to perform their respective office functions normally,” he said.

“Maski ayo kita iarampangang na kadifisilan, padagos man po gilayon an serbisyo dangan trabaho sa municipyo san Daraga para saynyo ngamin,” Baldo said. (Even though we are facing difficulty, our work in the municipal office will continue to serve the people of Daraga.)

On Wednesday, members of the Special Investigation Task Group Batocabe recovered one caliber .45 pistol allegedly used in the shooting of Batocabe and his police escort.

The gun was recovered at the fishpond in Purok 3, Barangay Busay, Ligao City, Albay.

Maria Luisa Calubaquib, regional police spokesperson, said members of the task force working on the Batocabe case recovered the pistol, with 10 live ammunition, supposedly one of the two firearms used by hitman Henry Yuson on the congressman.

The firearm was submitted for ballistic and cross-matching examination. – Rappler.com