MANILA – Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito on Wednesday expressed alarm over the killings of two mayors this week, raising the possibility that these might be related and carried out to shame President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“I’m a little bit alarmed kasi two days dalawang mayor (because two mayors were killed in two days),” Ejercito told reporters in an ambush interview at the Senate.
On Monday, Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas was killed by a sniper’s bullet during the flag-raising ceremony at the city hall.
The next day, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote was ambushed outside the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) compound in Cabanatuan City.
“It’s alarming. Kung sino ang gumagawa nito, I hope na magkaiba ito, sana hindi konektado. Pero parang tinitingnan ko dito, it’s intended to shame probably the government kung saka-sakali,” Ejercito said.
(Whoever is doing these, I hope they are different and are not connected. But if ever (there’s a connection), I think it’s intended to shame the government. We don’t have proof yet, but the police has to step up.)
“Pero wala pa naman tayong proof (But we still have no proof)…the PNP (Philippine National Police) has to step up,” he added.
Ejercito said he is hoping that he is wrong on his assumption, but if proven to be true that the killings were related, then somebody is indeed out to shame the Duterte administration.
The deaths of Halili and Bote were both condemned by the administration and the opposition.
But some critics are putting the blame indirectly on President Duterte for allegedly nurturing a climate of impunity due to the number of unsolved cases of killings in the government’s war against illegal drugs and criminality.
Halili has been tagged by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as an alleged member of an illegal drug trade group.
However, Bote, a first term mayor, is a member of the ruling PDP that President Duterte heads.
Malacañang has assured of a thorough police probe into the twin killings. PNA-northboundasia.com