Arroyo, lawmakers condemn killing of Batocabe

MANILA, Philippines (6th UPDATE) – Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and other lawmakers condemned the killing of one of their own, AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, who was shot dead at a gift-giving event in Albay on Saturday, December 22.

"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of an ally and friend, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe," Arroyo said in a statement Saturday afternoon. She then called for a speedy probe into Batocabe's death.

In its own statement, Malacañang on Saturday also denounced the killing of Batocabe, as it sent its condolences to the lawmaker's family. 

"Proper authorities are now investigating this brazen murder as we vow to leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this felonious act to justice," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, in a statement, said he has directed the PNP to immediately conduct an investigation.

“All angles and motives will be pursued,” he said. “We will make sure that justice shall prevail.”

Batocabe's police escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, was also slain in Saturday’s ambush. 

The congressman was running for Daraga mayor in the May 2019 elections.

Batocabe was the first congressman slain under the Duterte administration. 

At least 7 mayors and 12 mayors have been slain under Duterte's watch, Rappler's tally showed. Hours before Batocabe was killed, the former mayor of a Bukidnon town was also murdered.

Read the statements of Arroyo and other lawmakers on Batocabe's death:

Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo: 

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of an ally and friend, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe. Nothing can justify his murder and that of his police aide. I call on our law enforcement agencies to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation to bring all those behind this dastardly act to justice. I offer my deepest condolences to his family and constituents whom he had served with much commitment and compassion.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr:

I share the outrage, the pain, and the shock of my fellow Bicolanos over the death of my friend and colleague Rodel Batocabe. He was a man of peace and a visionary for progress. The laws he had authored and the programs he had initiated will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people he had selflessly served long after he is gone. That he was cowardly assassinated while spreading cheer in this season of forgiveness betrays the evil nature of the perpetrators. His murder must be strongly condemned, swiftly solved, and the culture of violence that stalks our land must be stopped.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman:

I am completely outraged and distressed by the murder of Rep. Rodel Batocabe of AKO Bicol party-list. 

His killers and their mastermind must be relentlessly pursued, apprehended, and brought to justice without delay. 

The real motive and its malevolent ramifications must be determined and established without sparing anyone.

Politics must not be stained by the blood of politicians and partisans. It must be confined to the confrontation of ideas and programs in the tranquil fora of mutual respect and civility.

The culture of violence must be forthwith eliminated, instead of being perpetuated, condoned, and encouraged by those in power.

Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr: 

Oh no. A colleague. A friend. Pinatay. Assassination. Rodel Batocabe. While we were not always in agreement, we were allies in the RH law fight. Kakilala. Nakasama. Kalungkot. #FightImpunity #NotoCultureofViolence

Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano:

I strongly condemn the murder of Ako Bicol Party-List Representative Rodel Batocabe.

This recent killing of a government official raises yet again the atmosphere of violence and impunity in our society now. I call on the authorities to conduct a swift and extensive investigation on this matter. The perpetrators must be apprehended and the motive of this remorseless act should be determined.

To the family and supporters of Cong. Batocabe, I extend my deepest condolences.

Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman:

I am immensely shocked and saddened at the tragic killing of my friend and dear colleague at the House of Representatives – Rep. Rodel Batocabe. He and Police Officer Orlando Diaz were both shot and killed during a gift-giving event for senior citizens and PWDs in Daraga, Albay.

I condole with the families of Rep. Batocabe and SPO1 Diaz. Tears fill my eyes as I imagine the pain that they are undergoing right now.

There is no room for hate and violence in our country! I am praying for swift justice for the victims and their families. How cruel that their lives were taken away just days before Christmas while doing acts of kindness!

The passing of Cong. Batocabe is a great loss to our country. He was too young to go.

Justice for Rep. Batocabe and SPO1 Diaz and their families!

PBA Representative Jericho Nograles:

Cong. Rodel Batocabe is my friend. He is a gentleman and a visionary for Bicol. He was president of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc and he served the coalition with pride. I will miss him terribly.

These senseless killings must stop now.

I urge the PNP and all other law enforcement authorities to get his killers ASAP. This is the only way that they can really assure us that they are doing the best they can to ensure a clean, honest and peaceful election in 2019.

I wish to extend to the family of Cong. Rodel Batocabe my profound condolences.

Kabayan Representative Ron Salo:

Kabayan Party-List extends its sincerest condolences to the family of the late Congressman Rodel Batocabe and with the AKO Bicol Party-List. Cong. Batocabe is a dear friend and a [colleague]. We shall miss him dearly.

We also condemn in the strongest sense his assassination. Those responsible are cowards who have no place in a civilized society. They deserve to be punished with the full extent of the law for their dastardly act.

We call on the PNP and the DOJ to immediately hunt Congressman Batocabe's killers and the mastermind or masterminds. Justice should be served swiftly.

Bagong Henerasyon Representative Bernadette Herrera Dy:

Our deepest condolences and prayers we offer to Congressman Rodel Batocabe's bereaved family, especially his wife, Gertie, and kids, Justin and Mark Raphael.

Congressman Batocabe died in the line of duty and service.

He led us party-list lawmakers, as President of the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc, by good example and championed the welfare of Bicolanos as leader of AKO Bicol Party-List.

He is a good friend and colleague. He will be missed by our party-list ranks and in the committees and plenary where the worked hard to push priority legislation.

We ask the PNP to swiftly find those responsible for his murder.

Senior Citizens Representative Milagros Aquino Magsaysay:

Sa ngalan ng Senior Citizens Partylist, at sa 9 milyong Senior Citizens ng Pilipinas, kami po ay nakikiramay sa mga pamilya, kaanak, katrabaho, at kaibigan ng yumaong kasamahan nating at mabuting kaalyado sa pagtataguyod ng mga karapatan at kapakanan ng nakatatanda sa Kongreso, na si AKO Bicol Rep. Rodel M. Batocabe.

Sa mabuting pagsisilbi ni Rep. Batocabe ay naitaguyod niya ang Universal Social Pension Bill, na naglalayong mapalawig ang benepisyo at dami ng mga nakatatandang benepisyaryo ng social pension sa bansa.

At siya po ay naging huwaran ng pamamahala at pagbubuklod ng mga mambabatas ng party-list ng Pilipinas, bilang pinuno ng Party-List Coalition Foundation sa Kongreso.

Kaya naman po, mariin po nating ikinokondena ang kanyang brutal na pagkamatay sa ngalan ng pulitika.

Sa mga naiwan ng mabuting mambabatas na Rep. Rodel Batocabe, aming taimtim na panalangin para sa inyong kapayapaan at hustisya dala ng napakasakit na pagkawalay na ito. Sadyang malaki pong kawalan ang serbisyo at katauhan ni Rep. Batocabe sa ating Kongreso. Ngunit, makakaasa po kayo na atin pong ipagpapatuloy ang mabuting simulain ni Rep. Batocabe sa kanyang mabuting puso at pagsisilbi sa mga nakatatandang Pilipino.

May the Lord of Justice and Peace prevail in our time of grief and loss.

Senior Citizen Representative Francisco Datol Jr:

Congressman Rodel Batocabe was murdered while personally rendering service to Bicolano senior citizens.

The heartless assassin and his still unknown mastermind handler must be hunted and meted justice.

Huli kaming nagkausap ni Rodel nitong huling araw ng sesyon sa House of Representatives.

Si Rodel, bilang isa sa mga may-akda ng House Bill 6251 (National Senior Citizens Commission Act), ay nagmagandang-loob na nagsabing sasamahan daw niya ako sa Senado sa pagpasok ng 2019 para personal na hilingin ang suporta ng mga senador sa pag-apruba ng panukala.

Ganyan si Rodel. Para ko nang kapatid. Mahal niya kaming mga seniors.

On behalf of more than 10 million Filipino senior citizens, I express my deepest condolences to his wife and sons and to Bicolanos everywhere who Rodel ably represented. 

Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin:

It's shocking, reprehensible, and highly condemnable. The killings of Cong Rodel Batocabe and his police escort in broad daylight and in full view of the public makes such act reprehensible.

It makes anyone feel so vulnerable when such senseless deed is done with impunity. The perpetrators must be identified, arrested, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The PNP and all law enforcement bodies should be mobilized to bring the killers to justice and uncover the truth behind such brutal attack against a sitting member of Congress.

I was in Daraga last December 9 for a conference and there was no inkling from Cong. Rodel that he was in harm's way when we talked briefly. He was considered the leading mayoralty candidate in a 3-way fight, being the only pure-blood Daraganon. Daraga is known as a peaceful and bustling town right beside Legazpi City and majestic Mayon volcano. It must come as a shock to all especially such deed was done when everyone is celebrating Christmas.

Akbayan Party-List expresses its heartfelt condolences to the family of Cong. Batocabe and that of his police escort.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate:

This highlights the climate of impunity prevalent in our country now and we hope that the [perpetrator] of this crime is brought to justice at the soonest time possible.

ACTS OFW Representative John Bertiz:

I condemn in its strongest sense the killing of Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe and his security escort. Like many of his colleagues in Congress, we are as shocked as everyone as else over such dastardly murder in broad daylight. Rodel is not only a colleague who pushed for meaningful legislation for his fellow Bicolanos but he is also to me a personal friend and a friend of overseas Filipino workers.

I expect our law enforcement authorities that they will do their best to find out the motive behind this killing and bring behind the bar of justice those responsible for such criminal act.

I send my deepest sympathy to his wife and children, and those who love him. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this time of [utmost] grief.

National Unity Party (NUP) President and Capiz 2nd District Representative Fredenil Castro

The National Unity Party, its officers, members and, political allies in no uncertain terms, strongly condemn the senseless and cowardly killing of  Rep Rodel Batocabe, a distinguished and respected member of the House of Representatives and a loyal political ally.  All concerned agencies are urged and called upon to exert all humanly possible effort to bring at the earliest possible opportunity the perpetrators of the said dastardly perpetrated act in the name of all peace-loving Filipinos.

Senator Sonny Angara:

I am outraged at the killing of Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe by unknown assailants in Daraga, Albay on Saturday. This deplorable act of violence has no place in a democratic society like ours. I strongly urge our police authorities to run after the suspects and bring them to the bar of justice at the soonest possible time. To the family and loved ones of Rep. Batocabe, my prayers, and deepest condolences.

Senator Francis Pangilinan:

The daily killings [were] touted by the Duterte administration as the solution to our country's ills, that the more killed in the drug war, the better. For every kill, reward money was given by the government. Impunity and police abuse became the order of business. Pretty soon, the killings and in all likelihood the offer of reward money quickly went beyond the drug war to include priests, lawyers, local politicians, journalists, and even businessmen. For the right price, any killing can be arranged, so it seems. As the days go by more and more are beginning to realize that the daily killings is not the solution but is, in fact, part of the problem.

Rest in peace Rep. Rodel. While we cry out for justice and demand that our law enforcers go after the killers and the mastermind, one cannot help raise the question as to who will be next in this growing list of daily killings now reaching tens of thousands.

Senator Richard Gordon

We commiserate with the family of Ako Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe during this time of grief. His assassination is a loss to the country. It is also an indication of moral decay as it showed that there are elements in our society that believe that a culture of violence is the only way to change...

At this time of turmoil, we must all go back to our fundamental law, the Philippine Constitution for guidance.  The [Constitution] specifies the manner by which we elect our leaders – through free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections.  Acts of violence such as the assassination of Representative Batocabe derogate this basic ideal.  

– Rappler.com