MANILA - There was "no system" behind the recent killings of local executives, a Palace spokesperson said Monday, as he noted that it was "political season" in the country.
"Talagang kinalulungkot natin lahat itong patayan na ito pero wala naman pong siste na lumalabas sa mga patayang ito ‘no...There is no system behind the killings, but the common obligation of the state is to accord justice and, of course, the domestic remedy to all victims of these killings," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
(We are saddened by the killings but there is no apparent system in these.)
"Tingin ko po, the more plausible explanation behind this is, it’s really political season in the Philippines. Kaya nga po ang Comelec (Commission on Elections) ay nag-iisip na palawigin pa ngayon iyong ban sa mga baril," he told reporters.
(I think the more plausible explanation behind this is, it’s really political season in the Philippines. The Comelec is mulling widening the gun ban.)
Trece Martires Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan of Cavite and his driver were killed in an ambush in his town on Saturday.
On Monday last week, Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili was shot during a flag-raising ceremony in city hall. General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote was gunned down at close range the day after.
Roque said the killings cannot be all linked to the government's narco-list, because only Halili has been linked to the controversial list.
Halili, who made headlines for forcing drug suspects to parade in public, was included in the government's watchlist of local leaders with supposed links to the drug trade and was subjected to Oplan Tokhang.
Roque said he is not inclined to believe that politics or drugs were the motives behind the killings pending complete investigation, which he believes would be swift under the leadership of police chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde.
"Hindi na po dapat utusan si General Albayalde doon sa general command conference po. Siyempre ang assumption ay mabilis ang imbestigasyon nang makita natin na hindi natutulog sa pansitan ang gobyerno," he said.
(Gen. Albayalde need not be told in the command conference. The assumption is the investigation will be quick so that we will see that the government is not sleeping on its job.)
Roque also described as "highly speculative" an Amnesty International official's statement that President Rodrigo Duterte "aggravated" political violence through his pronouncements.
"We’ve had vigilante killings since the time of Philip Alston. I don’t think it’s proper to attribute it to President Duterte," said Roque.
He also disagreed with Liberal Party President and opposition Sen. Francis Pangilinan who earlier said the killings of local politicians could be orchestrated to give Duterte the grounds to expand the martial law in Mindanao.
"Senator Pangilinan is a lawyer himself. He should know that even if there is lawlessness there cannot be a nationwide imposition of martial law. I think that’s what he was driving at," he said.
"Martial law is only for rebellion or invasion. Dalawang basehan lang po iyan. Kahit ilan pa yang patayan na iyan, kung walang rebelyon at walang pananakop, wala pong dahilan para magkaroon ng martial law sa buong Pilipinas," he added.