PNP forms task group to probe killings of local government officials

Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2018 11:44 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2018 12:41 AM

MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) has formed a national task group focused on investigating killings of local government officials. 

PNP Director-General Oscar Albayalde on Monday said this was done to oversee the investigation of different special investigation task groups. 

“Binigyan na natin ng focus at meron na magpa-follow up from the National Headquarters para every now and then napa-follow up yung mga nag-iimbestiga on the ground, iyung mga territorial units para hindi mapabayaan ito and die a natural death,” Albayalde said.

At least 11 mayors and 6 vice-mayors have been killed during the Duterte administration.

The PNP chief said the killings of local executives should not be cause for alarm. 

“But of course we should be concerned whether they are included in the narco list or not. The PNP is always concerned especially kapag yung mga victims ng mga shooting incidents are elected officials and we cannot turn our back on those incidents. Kailangan talagang imbestigahan ang mga iyan. Hindi lang naman siguro yan, pati lahat ng mga incidents. ‘Yung sa ibang mga incidents ginagawan natin ng SITG (special investigation task group), bakit hindi dito sa mga local chief executives,” Albayalde said.

Police Director Elmer Sarona, head of the PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (PNP-DIDM) who will head the PNP-NITG, said it is important to have a national investigation task group that will oversee the SITGs. 

“Para magkaroon ng platform for coordination. It’s not new, may SITGs naman tayo bawat region but that SITGs before, medyo out of sight pala natin, wala yung magko-coordinate sa national level,” Sarona said.

“Para taga-pukpok na rin ensure that the investigation that they are conducting are progressing,” Sarona added. 

Sarona said most of the investigation findings lean towards the incident being an isolated case, but they still want to see if there is a connection or pattern in the incidents. 

“Kasi may kailangan sila sa isang region, o may kailangan sila sa profiling of suspects that needs coordination from other regions or offices para meron tayong platform sa national headquarters,” Sarona said.

Sarona also said they will investigate whether a gun-for-hire syndicate is going around the provinces or regions. 

“Would like to find out yung spectrum, notoriety ng isang tao o isang grupo kung ito ba ay hindi lang pala sa ganitong probinsiya or ganitong region,” Sarona said.

Sarona said it will be easier to do a profiling because of the national database. 

Last week, Mariano Blanco III , the mayor of Ronda town in Cebu, was shot dead by unidentified men inside the town hall.

Blanco was stripped of authority over local police in 2017 for his alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.

He was also among the 3 local chief executives who were not invited to a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte in Cebu last May. 

Blanco's nephew, Ronda Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab, was killed in February.

Ungab was shot by unidentified men after attending the court hearing of his client, self-confessed drug distributor Kerwin Espinosa. 

Blanco was the 16th elected official killed under the Duterte administration.