Police launch manhunt for Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo

ALBAY, Philippines – The Philippine National Police on Monday, May 6, has launched a manhunt for Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the accused in the murder of AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe and his police escort. 

On Monday, Lieutenant Colonel Rodelon Betita, Daraga police chief, and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) personnel failed to serve an arrest warrant against Baldo for murder charges after the mayor eluded arrest. 

The warrant of arrest was issued by Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Judge Maria Theresa San Juan Loquillano. 

Betita first served the arrest warrant on Monday morning at Baldo's residence, but he was not around then.

Later in the afternoon, Betita and the CIDG personnel went to Baldo's ancestral home to arrest the embattled mayor. Members of the arresting team as well as the media waited for an hour before they were given the green light by Merito Lovenzky Fernandez, head of Baldo's legal team, to enter the compound.

Fernandez even toured the arresting officers around Baldo's ancestral home to prove that the mayor was not around and that he was not hiding from authorities.

Fernandez said that his client will surrender to authorities peacefully and will not go on hiding as he will face the charges filed against him.

"Mayor Baldo will not hide and he will surrender to the authorities, but we're asking the police not to handcuff my client and embarrass him," Fernandez told Rappler.

Baldo's wife Romella Apuli Baldo echoed Fernandez's statement. 

"We don't know that there is an arrest warrant from the court today, but my husband will not run away from authorities and will face his charges," she said in an interview with Rappler.

Baldo was charged with murder over the killing of Batocabe and his police escort, Orlando Diaz, on December 22, 2018. Batocabe was running for mayor of Daraga against Baldo. 

The serving of the arrest warrant comes a week before the May 13 polls. Baldo is running for reelection, going up against Gertie Batocabe, who took her slain husband's place in the mayoral race, and incumbent Daraga Vice Mayor Victor Perete. – Rappler.com