MANILA - Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo on Thursday asserted his innocence after police tagged him as the mastermind in the killing of AKO Bicol partylist Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
"I assert my innocence. Let us not forget that while I’m being used as convenient scapegoat, those who are truly responsible for the crime remain free and blameless," Baldo said in a press conference.
"I am an easy target but that does not make me guilty of the crime.
I am already being persecuted in the courts of public opinion. I am a public servant at ang gusto ko lang naman po ay magsilbi (and I just want to serve)."
Baldo conveyed his sympathies to the family of Batocabe and his security detail, who also died in the incident.
"To the victims who were caught in the line of fire and to the people of Daraga, in our quest for justice, let us avoid committing injustice," he said.
Baldo is facing charges of double murder, along with other suspects, after the Philippine National Police identified him as the mastermind behind Batocabe's slay.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said authorities have an "air-tight case" against Baldo.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said Baldo contracted 7 people to assassinate Batocabe for P5 million.
Batocabe was planning to challenge reelectionist Baldo for the Daraga mayoralty in the midterm elections in May.
The lawmaker, 52, was distributing Christmas gifts in his hometown in Daraga, Albay on Dec. 22 when he and his police escort were gunned down by at least 6 assailants.