Tanauan mayor was 'easy target' from assassin's perch: police

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 05 2018 10:52 AM | Updated as of Jul 05 2018 03:29 PM

MANILA -- Tanauan Mayor Antonio Halili was an "easy target" for his assassin, who was perched on high ground, police said Thursday, after they reenacted the killing.

The gunman hid in a grassy area, a vantage point that was 4 meters high, with an aerial distance of 78.6 meters from his target, said Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, head of the Calabarzon police.

"Talagang easy target ka d'yan (You would have been an easy target). Considering na it was a flag-raising, the mayor was a still target," he said.

The shell of an M16 rifle was also recovered from the gunman's suspected hideout. The depression on the grass also indicated that he could have been accompanied by a lookout, he said.

"We are only deducing that there, together with the gunman, was another person probably assisting him," he said.

Known for parading drug suspects through the streets of Tanauan, Halili was shot during a flag-raising ceremony at the city hall last Monday. He died from a single gunshot wound on the chest. 

The sniper's distance discounts the possibility that the mayor was shot by any of those near him, said Carranza. 

NOT A SNIPER? 

The killer may not have been an expert sniper given that he shot the mayor on the chest, an easier target than a head shot that would have caused instant death, the police official said.

"Kaya body shot ang tinira niya, that is a bigger target so hindi siya ka-confident in the way he used the firearm. Kung talagang sniper iyan, at a distance of 1 kilometer, he can have a head shot," he said. 

(He went for a body shot because that is a bigger target so it shows he was not confident in the way he used the firearm. If it was indeed a sniper, even at a distance of 1 kilometer, he can have a head shot.) 

Investigators were still looking into how the gunman escaped from the grassy area that leads to a cemetery. 

Carranza said police have determined a person of interest, whom he declined to identify. 

Halili had compared himself to Duterte as he publicly shared the President's hardline position against crime and illegal drugs.

But in 2017, Halili's name surfaced on a "narco-list" presented by Duterte. The mayor was stripped of control of the police following the publication of the list. 

Three other mayors on the "narco-list" have been shot dead, including Rolando Espinosa of Albuera, Leyte; Reynaldo "Aldong" Parojinog of Ozamiz City; and Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao. 

Another mayor, Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, was shot dead by motorcycle-borne gunman a day after Halili's killing. He had no known drug links, police said. 

With reports from Fay Virrey and Noel Alamar, ABS-CBN News; Reuters