PPresident Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday added Ᵽ20 million to the bounty on Ako Bicol Partylist Representative Rodel Batocabe’s killer, ramping up the reward money to Ᵽ50 million.
“May binulong si Senator Go. The reward at this time is 30 million. I’m raising the ante. I’m putting it at plus 20 to 50. Ang sabihin mo lang, tip lang. Bigyan mo isang tip lang,” the Chief Executive made this announcement in a chance interview with the media while paying his last respects at the wake of the slain lawmaker.
Rep. Batocabe, 52, was shot eight times by two gunmen during a gift-giving event for senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWDs) on Saturday afternoon, December 22, in Burgos, Daraga town in Albay.
The police are looking at a possible link of the assassination to politics since Batocabe was running for mayor in his hometown, Daraga, in the coming midterm elections in 2019.
President Duterte said that based on the initial findings the leads were “very strong” and “almost straight.” However, he also affirmed that at this time authorities have not pinpointed any suspect yet, but the assault was clearly “politically-motivated.”
“So if I say politically motivated, it could be a politician, it could be the mayor, it could [be] the governor or a barangay captain. But my favorite name now is mayor. But I’m not saying who that mayor is,” the President explained.
During the wake visit, the President talked to Batocabe’s widow and children wherein he expressed his deepest condolences. The family also asked President Duterte to help them seek justice for their slain loved one.
The President then ordered the Commission on Election (COMELEC) to place Daraga under its control.
“So para madalian, anyway there’s really lawlessness and ‘yung violent crimes during
election, I just called the chairman of the Comelec and recommended to him to place Daraga under Comelec control,” he said.
“Let’s go back to the Alunan doctrine that no candidate should strut around with bodyguards with long firearms. That’s prohibited. Only the police and the military. All others, wala. Except when you are granted a permit to carry by the Comelec. So lahat ‘yan ngayon is Comelec control… the office that has the final say of what to do in the matter of law and order,” he added.
The President reinforced his warning to politicians running for the midterm election not to “terrorize” the poll nor “oppress” and “intimidate” the voters. He said, “So kung nakinig kayo ngayon, eh kung hindi ikaw, just ignore it. But if you are the one na gumagawa ng kalokohan, pinapatay ‘yung mga kalaban… pupuntahan kita dito. I will personally confront you.”
Apart from the running candidates next year, President Duterte gave similar warning to the members of the New People’s Army (NPA), reiterating to stop “extorting” from politicians during the campaign period.
“Ang NPA, the extortion, so you cause an aberration in the system na ang tao gustong pumunta ng bukid, magkampanya, kasi hindi makapunta kasi hiningian ninyo ng pera,” he cited.
“Allow the people to campaign. Do not pretend to be the protector of people and yet you are milking them dry,” he added.
In spite of his warning against the NPA, the President asked the communist rebels to help the authorities in finding the suspect in Batocabe’s murder case, especially that some investigators are also looking at a possible communist-rebel link to the killing due to the place of the assault.
“Kaya isa nga kayo sa mga suspect, NPA. Pero sabi niyo hindi, ‘di hindi. Eh ngayon kung hindi kayo, sino? Sige daw be. Meron pa man… Magkaibigan man talaga tayo. Kung hindi kayo, sino? Ibigay mo sa akin ‘yung pangalan,” he stressed. (PNA)