Townsfolk cry for justice as slain Nueva Ecija mayor laid to rest

GEN. TINIO, Nueva Ecija — Mayor Ferdinand Bote was laid to rest at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, a week after he was gunned down along Maharlika Highway in Cabanatuan City, also in this province.

Thousands of people, mostly in white or black shirt printed with “Justice for Mayor Bote”, attended the interment, making Tuesday seem like “an undeclared holiday” in this town.

From the sports complex, Bote’s remains were brought to the Bethany United Methodist Church at 7 a.m. for religious services before a funeral parade along the town’s major streets.

His casket, carried by an Elf truck with police honor guards, followed a huge crowd. Supporters carried a huge tarpaulin with “Justice for Mayor Bote” messages.

The mayor’s batch mates in high school Class of 1977 wore red armed bands and shouted “Justice for mayor!” as he was being buried.

William Bote, a cousin and high school classmate, recalled the mayor’s great leadership skill since his youth.

Bote, a first-term mayor of this southern town in Nueva Ecija, had just come from National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Office in Cabanatuan City when ambushed by still unidentified armed men.

He was rushed by his driver to the nearby MV Gallego Hospital, but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician.

A special investigation task group (SITG) was immediately created to pursue the investigation on the killing.

Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, Central Luzon police director, earlier said the “SITG Ferdie Bote” will look into all angles of the crime, including business and politics.

Corpus said Bote was not included on the list of alleged narcotics-linked government officials.

The provincial government of Nueva Ecija, on the other hand, has offered a PHP1-million reward to anyone who can give information that would lead to the immediate resolution of the case.

Governor Czarina Umali, in a statement, vowed “to make the perpetrators answer for their crime.”

A CCTV footage gathered by the police from villages adjacent to the crime scene showed that there were three persons on the single motorcycle used in the killing, and two of them were armed.

The footage also showed that the motorcycle was backed up by an SUV as it fled the crime scene. Marilyn Galang/