MANILA (5th UPDATE)—Several lawmakers on Saturday denounced the killing of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, demanding justice for his slay.
Batocabe, 52, was gunned down Saturday afternoon in his hometown Daraga in Albay during a gift-giving activity. His bodyguard was also killed.
Batocabe's colleagues at the House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as well as several senators, condemned the killing and called for immediate justice.
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of an ally and friend, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe. Nothing can justify his murder and that of his police aide," Macapagal-Arroyo said in a statement.
"I call on our law-enforcement agencies to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation to bring all those behind this dastardly act to justice."
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said he shares the "outrage, the pain, and the shock" over Batocabe's death.
"He was a man of peace and a visionary for progress. The laws he had authored and the programs he had initiated will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people he had selflessly served long after he is gone," Andaya said.
"His murder must be strongly condemned, swiftly solved, and the culture of violence that stalks our land must be stopped."
PBA party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, meanwhile, said the police should immediately bring the perpetrators to justice, urgent action that would help instill confidence in next year's conduct of polls.
"I urge the PNP and all other law enforcement authorities to get his killers ASAP. This is the only way that they can really assure us that they are doing the best they can to ensure a clean, honest and peaceful election in 2019," he said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano called for the end of the culture of violence in the country.
"[Batocabe's] killers and their mastermind must be relentlessly pursued, apprehended, and brought to justice without delay," Lagman said in a statement.
Alejano added: "This recent killing of a government official raises yet again the atmosphere of violence and impunity in our society now. I call on the authorities to conduct a swift and extensive investigation on this matter. The perpetrators must be apprehended and the motive of this remorseless act should be determined."
Former lawmaker and presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, vowed to do "all in my power to bring justice to his family."
"I am shocked and outraged by the killing of Congressman Rodel Batocabe. He was not only my colleague in the 17th Congress, he was also my classmate, former law partner, and a good friend," he said.
"His death is a huge loss to Bicolandia and the House of Representatives. I call on the Philippine National Police to be more vigilant against election-related violence, even if the campaign period has not yet begun."
Senators Bam Aquino, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, and Grace Poe, meanwhile, offered condolences to the family of Batocabe and condemned his killing.
"I strongly urge our police authorities to run after the suspects and bring them to the bar of justice at the soonest possible time. To the family and loved ones of Rep. Batocabe, my prayers and deepest condolences," Angara said in a statement.
Aquino echoed Angara's sentiments: "We urge concerned authorities to leave no stone unturned and conduct a thorough probe on the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. Panahon na upang wakasan ang karahasang kagaya nito sa ating lipunan."
(It's time to end violence like this in our society.)
Ejercito said in a tweet: "Rep. Rodel Batocabe was a colleague of mine in the HOR (House of Representatives) during the 15th Congress. He is a nice person and one of those with substance. I condemn this senseless killing of Cong. Rodel."
Poe added in a statement: "We exhort authorities to act fast to make the killers accountable. This sorry history in our nation of political violence must stop."
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said Filipinos "have lost an outstanding public servant today" and said Batocabe was "one of the most hardworking legislators I have ever met."
Sen. Nancy Binay, meanwhile, urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday to declare Albay as an election "hotspot" following Batocabe's killing.