Tawi-Tawi town vice mayor shot dead

Jewel Reyes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 11 2018 07:06 PM | Updated as of Jul 12 2018 01:06 AM

ZAMBOANGA CITY (3rd UPDATE) - The vice mayor of Sapa Sapa town in Tawi-Tawi was gunned down Wednesday.

Vice Mayor Al-Rashid Mohammad Ali was on board his vehicle when he was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen while traversing Governor Alvarez Avenue.

Senior Supt. Allan Nazaro, director of Zamboanga City Police Office, said the victim was traveling with his family and a security escort when the ambush took place.

Ali died in the hospital after sustaining two gunshot wounds in his chest.

The attack took to 16 the number of mayors and vice mayors killed since Duterte unleashed his deadly anti-narcotics campaign when he came to power in 2016, according to media reports.

"We're still investigating the motive for the killing," Nazaro said.

Three mayors, who were on Duterte's watchlist of local officials suspected to have drug links, had been killed in two years. Ali is the second vice mayor to be assassinated.

Last week, Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City in Batangas, south of Manila, was hit by a bullet in the chest during a flag-raising ceremony.

Halili had gained prominence in 2016 for parading drug suspects in the streets, but Duterte had put him on a watchlist of regional leaders.

Duterte said the mayor may have had some drug involvement, calling his campaign to parade suspects was a ploy to convince police he was not engaged in the illegal drug trade. Halili’s daughter has denied that her father had such links.

On Tuesday, gunmen on a motorcycle killed Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio town in Nueva Ecija province, but police said he was not linked to the drug trade.

Alex Lubigan of Trece Martires, also south of Manila, was also killed in an ambush on Saturday. - with a report from Reuters