Lawmakers want Daraga town under Comelec control

MANILA, Philippines – Legislators want justice to be served soon for their slain colleague AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, whom the police suspect was killed by a private army hired by Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo.

Kabayan Representative Ron Salo said on Thursday, January 3, that while Baldo is “innocent until proven otherwise,” the Commission on Elections should already place Daraga town under its control.

“Resorting to violence, and worst, killing a political opponent so as to ensure electoral victory is the highest form of savagery. It has no place in a civilized society,” said Salo. 

On Thursday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) alleged that Baldo “employed” a private armed group to plot the assassination of Batocabe on December 22, 2018. (READ: AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe laid to rest in Albay)

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr said he feared the possibility that Baldo was indeed behind the killing of Batocabe, who was set to challenge Baldo’s bid for reelection in 2019. 

“Well, for one, I’m happy na solved na 'yong kaso. Pero secondly, nakakatakot naman na kapwa politiko na, umabot na sa ganyan ang sitwasyon. Sana, well, if he will be brought to justice, it will be a swift decision kung siya talaga ang perpetrator,” said Andaya.

(Well, for one, I’m happy the case is solved. But secondly, it is scary that another politician would resort to this kind of situation. I hope that, if he will be brought to justice, it will be a swift decision if he is indeed the perpetrator.)

Batocabe was gunned down after a gift-giving ceremony with senior citizens in Daraga, Albay in December. His police escort Orlando Diaz was also killed, while several senior citizens were injured. 

The late congressman’s family and the PNP suspect that Batocabe was killed for political reasons. (READ: Batocabe's wife to killer: You're going to pay)

On December 24 or two days after Batocabe's murder, Baldo had said he was "saddened by the loss of a good man, a dedicated public servant, and a worthy opponent in the coming May 2019 elections.” 

Suspension, hold departure order vs Baldo? 

“I appeal to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to order the responsible government officials to invoke Section 60 to 68 of Chapter IV of the Local Government Code (RA 7160) to preventively suspend the incumbent Daraga mayor and any other civil servants implicated in the murder of AKO BICOL Congressman Rodel Batocabe,” said 1-Ang Edukasyon Representative Salvador Belaro Jr.

“Daraga City is a town of Albay province and as such the Governor of Albay is vested with the power to preventively suspend an elective official of a component city or municipality within the province,” he added.

Senior Citizens Representative Francisco Datol, meanwhile, wants the Bureau of Immigration to put Baldo in its hold departure list. 

“Now that the murder and frustrated murder charges have been filed against the Daraga mayor, the DOJ has enough basis to have the hold departure order issued against him,” said Datol. 

Legislators and the President are offering a total of P50 million to anyone who can provide information that would lead to the arrest of Batocabe’s killers.

Batocabe is the first congressman to be shot dead during the Duterte presidency, following a series of killings of mayors and vice mayors. – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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