Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 2) — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is close to solving the killing of AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and may announce updates on the case as early as today.
“The investigation is progressing quite positively. There are a lot of encouraging results based on this investigation and for sure you’ll be hearing good news from the Philippine National Police … probably today or tomorrow,” PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Bong Durana told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Wednesday.
Durana said manhunt operations are underway as they interview witnesses to Batocabe’s killing, who was shot dead along with his security escort during a gift giving program in his hometown of Daraga, Albay last December 22, 2018. He added that police have two to three credible witnesses to the slay.
He said police are looking into the possible involvement of a mayor or the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the fatal shooting.
“We are looking to all angles and all suspects and all masterminds at this point,” Durana said.
Batocabe was a three-term congressman who was running for Daraga mayor in the 2019 polls against the incumbent Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete.
Baldo has denied having a hand in the lawmaker’s killing.
Likewise, the NPA has denied that it is behind the slay of Batocabe and his aide.
But even with this st-atement, Durana said they are not striking out the possibility that the communist armed group is behind the solon’s killing, adding that they have previously recorded some members of the NPA being hired as assassins.
He added, quoting PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde, that Baldo is not off the hook.
Police have identified six persons of interest in Batocabe’s killing and have obtained photos of them, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said. Authorities have also released composite sketches of two of the suspects.
Batocabe’s fellow lawmakers and President Rodrigo Duterte have raised a 50 million reward for anyone who can point to his killers, which Durana said has helped in their probe.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also considering placing Daraga under its control, which means that the election body would take immediate and direct supervision and control over all national and local officials in the municipality, including exercising control and super-vision over all law enforcement agencies. Security councils will also be stationed in the area under Comelec control.
Batocabe was laid to rest on New Year’s Eve at the Daraga Catholic Cemetery.