PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Friday took exception to allegations linking him to the killing of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili in July.
“Kagaya nung si Mayor Halili ng Tanauan, bayang magiliw, boog! Patay siya, tapos ako ang pagbintangan. Unfair sila sa akin,” Duterte said in a speech before the Filipino community in Papua New Guinea, where he is attending the 26th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Meeting.
Halili was shot dead while attending the flag-raising ceremony at city hall on July 2. Administration critic Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin blamed his death and that of another slain mayor on Duterte, who has allegedly issued a “free license” to kill in his campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte earlier surmised that Halili may have been killed because of illegal drugs.
Halili, known for parading drug suspects through the city streets, had refuted the allegation that he had links to the narcotics business.
In his speech, Duterte claimed innocence over the killings of local chief executives and said his threat to “kill” government officials with drug ties was only meant to scare them.
“Wala akong alam. Ako magsabi man lang ako patayin kita pero pangtakot man lang yan, istorya man lang yan. Maniwala ka pala? Sino ang nagpatay? Ang pulis o, tanungin mo. Hindi ako,” he said.
Malacañang said the government continued to adhere to the rule of law and considered the recent killings of mayors as an attempt to erode confidence in the President, whose main platform of governance rests on fighting crimes