Political foes behind Batocabe killing – family, lawmakers

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The family of AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe and some lawmakers said politics motivated the killing of the congressman in Daraga, Albay.

On her Facebook, Gertie Duran-Batocabe accused a rival camp of masterminding the murder. She, however, did not identify them.

“YOU know so well we were winning the race. You coward just had to take him out,” Mrs Batocabe’s post read.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he was surpised by the news and said politics was “obviously” the reason for the killing.

“Na-shock ako, nalungkot talaga ako kasi kasama ko pa sya nitong taon na ito…. Nakakalungkot ang pangyayari. tatakbong mayor eh,” Sotto said over radio dzBB on Sunday, December 23. (I was shocked and saddened because I was with him just this year....I was saddened by the incident, he's running for mayor.)

“Obviously political yan, wala nang iba. Ang pinakamaganda, kailangan kumilos ang DILG, PNP alam nila sino dapat imbestigahan at dapat ang police force dun kailangan galawin na,” Sotto said. (Obviously, it's political, nothing else. The best thing to do is for the DILG and PNP to act, they know who should be investigated. The police force there should be replaced.)

Senator Richard Gordon said the assassination of Batocabe "shows that there are people who think that violence and bloodshed are substitues for dialougue and clean, honest and peaceful elections."

Regional police official Arnel Escobel had told Agence France-Presse that Batocabe recently voiced concern that rivals in the local mayoral race were using armed groups to influence the vote.

Batocabe was set to run for mayor of the municipality of Daraga in the 2019 polls. He was supposed to run against incumbent Mayor Carlwyn Baldo of Lakas-CMD and Victor Perete of PDP-Laban.

In a public post, Baldo expressed “great sorrow” over the passing of Batocabe and ordered an investigation into the killing.

“Christmas should not be tainted by blood and I will not condone such violent and terroristic acts in this town. My heart goes out to the Batocabe family and his friends,” Baldo said on Facebook.

Senator Nancy Binay had called on the Commission on Elections to declare Albay province an election hot spot, following the killing of Batocabe and two journalists in the previous months.

“In the past months, election-related killings and murders have increased. But if we do not face these cases to bring justice, no amount of condemnation would bring justice to the victims and their families,” Binay said in a statement in a mix of Filipino and English.

On Saturday afternoon, Batocabe was leading a gift-giving program for senior citizens in Daraga when he was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen. Police said there are “more or less” a total of 6 suspects.

The lawmaker sustained 8 gunshot wounds, according to police. His bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, was also killed while 7 senior citizens were injured. (READ: Malacañang vows 'no stone unturned' in Batocabe probe) – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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