MANILA - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency on Wednesday maintained that a slain town mayor is tied to the narcotics trade, echoing President Rodrigo Duterte's accusation.
Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili, who is known for parading suspected criminals, was gunned down on Monday by a sniper during a flag-raising ceremony.
Hours after the killing, Duterte said the mayor could have used his "walk of shame" campaign as a ploy to hide his involvement in illegal drugs.
PDEA Director Aaron Aquino told ABS-CBN News that Halili was connected with a narcotics ring in Batangas and another mayor in Central Luzon who allegedly has drug operations in Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Pampanga.
Aquino also said Halili was tagged in Duterte's list of officials with alleged drug ties and the PDEA's National Drug Identification System (NDIS).
Halili would have been a target of an anti-drug operation, were it not for his untimely death, Aquino said.
At Halili's wake, his daughter Angeline claimed Duterte had been fed false information about her father, whom she said would rather die than be a drug lord.
On the same day that Halili was killed, unidentified assailants strafed the vehicle of ARMM Assemblyman Sidik Amiril in Davao City. He survived the attack, but his aide, Berry Adas, succumbed to multiple gunshots.
Amiril was also listed in Duterte's "narco-list", said Aquino.
Nueva Ecija's Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio town, who was shot dead Tuesday by motocycle-borne gunmen, had no known drug ties, said the PDEA chief.
Bote's killing was likely politically motivated, Aquino said.
Aquino also reiterated that the narco-list and the NDIS are not hitlists.
"It's not true pag ikaw ay nasa (if you are in the) narco-list or sa NDIS ka ng PDEA eh you'll be subjected to an extra judicial killing," he said.
-- Report from Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News