Bicol Party List Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort yesterday were shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Daraga, Albay.
Batocabe, a 52-year-old three term partylist congressman, and his policeman-bodyguard SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were declared dead on arrival at AMEC Hospital.
The lawmaker went to Bgy. Burgos in Daraga to distribute Christmas gifts to the elderly and persons with disabilities.
Batocabe and his police escort were about to leave the village’s basketball court after the gift giving when shot at 3 p.m. yesterday.
Police Regional Office 5 director Chief Supt. Arnel Escobal has ordered a massive hunt for the killers and created a Special Investigation Task Group that will spearhead the investigation into the killing of the Bicol solon.
Batocabe, a resident of Bgy. Banag in Daraga, was running for mayor of the town in the coming May 2019 midterm polls before he was killed.
Officials said Batocabe was known for visiting his constituents in Albay without any uniformed bodyguards.
The slain lawmaker was the vice chair of the House Committees on Dangerous Drugs, Good Government and Public Accountability and Natural Resources.
SPEAKER ARROYO CONDEMNS BATOCABE KILLING
Former President now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo condemned the killing of an ally and a friend.
“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,” said Arroyo.
Senator Sonny Angara and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman joined Arroyo in condemning the killings as they demanded immediate justice for the victims.
“I am outraged at the killing of Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe by unknown assailants in Daraga, Albay. 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,” said Angara
“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,” said Lagman.
“The real motive and its malevolent ramifications must be determined and established without sparing anyone,” Lagman added.
Batocabe, a lawyer and President of the 46-strong Party List Coalition (PLC), became the latest top politician to be killed in the run-up to next year’s polls.
Last May 12, former La Union Rep. Eufranio Eriguel, his two aides and a supporter were killed while they were attending a Sangguniang Kabataan meeting in Bgy. Capas in Agoo, La Union.
Last October 1, assassins shot dead Sudipen, La Union Mayor Alexander Buquing, his policeman-bodyguard, and a driver in a daring attack that also wounded the mayor’s wife, Vice Mayor Wendy Joy Buquing.
A few days later, gunmen killed Balaoan, La Union Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion and wounded his daughter, Mayor Aleli Concepcion.
In all three incidents in La Union, the local police suspected that guns-for-hire working for political rivals of the victims were behind the deadly attacks.
However, Camp Crame officials said they were puzzled why those attacks continued with police seemingly helpless in stopping the assassins despite the PNP leadership’s directive for a massive crackdown against partisan armed groups, guns-for-hire and loose firearms that could be used to sow terror in the forthcoming May 2019 mid-term polls.
ALBAYALDE VOWS JUSTICE
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde also condemned the killing of Batocabe and his police escort. He vowed to get to the bottom of the twin murder.
“I have directed the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group to mobilise all available resources and to orchestrate all aspects of investigation to ensure that justice is served as soon as possible to both the victims and their families,” Albayalde said.
“We appeal to the public to immediately report to the police any information that could lead us to the perpetrators and to help us quickly solve the case,” the PNP chief added.
With Ryan Ponce Pacpaco