Palace vows justice; CHR alarmed at 'string of violence'
MANILA (7th UPDATE) - Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio town, Nueva Ecija was shot dead Tuesday, police said.
The incident came a day after Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was gunned down during a flag-raising ceremony in Batangas Monday.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said the mayor was shot by unidentified gunmen on board a motorcycle after coming from the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) office in Cabanatuan City.
NIA-Cabanatuan division manager Rose Bote (not related to the mayor) said the official was on his way out of the state agency's office on board his vehicle around 4:30 p.m. when he was gunned down by an unidentified assailant.
"May CCTV po kami sa may gate, nakita po namin 'yun, nung ni-review po 'yung CCTV, nung palabas na po siya ng highway. Nakasakay po siya sa sasakyan," Bote told DZMM radio.
(We have a CCTV near the gate. We saw him about to leave for the highway aboard his vehicle.)
"Papaliko na po siya sa highway, mayroon pong isang naka-black na mama na tumutok po dun sa sasakyan niya. 'Yun pong sa CCTV nakatayo po eh, wala po sa sasakyan."
(He was about to make a turn to the highway when a gunman dressed in black approached his vehicle. That's what we saw in the CCTV, he was standing, he was not inside a vehicle.)
Rose Bote said the mayor's driver, who was left unscathed in the incident, rushed the official to the Cabanatuan City Hospital just across the site of the shooting.
Bote was declared dead on arrival at the hospital after sustaining 18 gunshot wounds in the different parts of his body.
PNP spokesperson Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said an investigation is ongoing.
"It’s unfortunate but we want to assure the public that the Philippine National Police is on top of the situation," Durana told radio DZMM.
Malacañang expressed its condolences to the family of the slain mayor and said it "will spare no effort in getting to the bottom of this latest violent crime."
"We assure everyone that we would discharge the state obligation for every murder," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
Roque said Bote was a supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte and was not linked to illegal drugs.
Senator Koko Pimentel confirmed that Bote was a member of ruling party PDP-Laban.
"Yes he was a partymate. Masakit na balita 'yan. Nakakalungkot," Pimentel said in a statement.
The Commission on Human Rights, meanwhile, said it was "alarmed with the string of violence that has led to the killings of local executives."
"We urge the government to act with greater sense of urgency in ensuring every Filipino’s right to life is protected. More so that, aside from local officials, priests, media workers, and common Filipinos have been subjects of violence, often leading to their deaths," it said.
"At this point, the demand to deliver swift justice by making perpetrators accountable rings louder than before, as the cycle of violence and culture of impunity continues to worsen."
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año has called on police to conduct a thorough investigation.
"Kailangan muna makakuha ng leads and we will go wherever the evidence leads us," he said on Bandila.
Año also revealed that Bote is not part of the so-called "narco-list," which contains the names of local government officials, policemen, and judges allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade.
"Wala siya sa 'narco-list.' Sa aming pag-iimbestiga, maayos itong si Mayor Ferdinand," he added.
Año said they are also open to provide more security to local chief executives who feel threatened or fear for their lives.
"On a case-by-case basis, we will entertain kung kinakailangan dagdagan ang kanilang seguridad lalo sa mga lugar na drug-affected areas," he said. -- With reports from Raffy Santos, Elaine Fulgencio, Sherrie Ann Torres, and Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News