Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, police escort killed in Albay
Updated @ 12:22 p.m., Dec. 23, 2018
DARAGA, Albay — Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his police escort were shot and killed by gunmen at a gift-giving activity for senior citizens and persons with disability on Saturday afternoon.
Batocabe died while being rushed to a private hospital in Legazpi City after four men peppered him with bullets as he was leaving the covered basketball court of Burgos Elementary School at Barangay Burgos around 3 p.m., police said.
The third-term party-list representative was running for mayor of Daraga town in the 2019 elections. He was 52.
Malacañang and lawmakers condemned his “senseless killing.”
“Proper authorities are now investigating this brazen murder as we vow to leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this felonious act to justice,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
The Philippine National Police on Saturday created a special investigation task group to look “into all aspects” of the attack.
“We appeal to the public to immediately report to the police any information that could lead us to the perpetrators and to help us quickly solve this case,” said PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde.
Police officer shot first
Batocabe’s police escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, died on the spot after being shot first, said Supt. Benito Dipad, Daraga police chief.
Batocabe had eight gunshot wounds in his body, according to Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., spokesperson of the Philippine National Police.
On the other hand, Diaz had six gunshot wounds — two in his head, and one each in his left chest, abdomen and both legs.
Five civilian bystanders were also injured in the attack.
Dipad identified them Hayde Non Llorera, Gregorio Mediavillo, Nelia Millenia, Jesus Medes and Loresita Lomerio.
The gunmen used the succeeding confusion to escape on foot, witnesses said.
The gift-giving activity was not coordinated with police, which Dipad said was a “very risky thing to do” since the village of Burgos, located 9 kilometers from the town center, was considered a rebel-infested area.
Batocabe’s relatives said the lawmaker was not wearing a bulletproof vest despite previously receiving death threats through anonymous text messages.
According to sources in the camp of the slain lawmaker, he started using a bulletproof car two weeks ago after a survey showed him to be the leading contender for the Daraga mayoralty post.
Batocabe was vice chairman of three House committees — on dangerous drugs; good government and public accountability; and natural resources.
Even after the House took a holiday break last Dec. 12, Batocabe continued working.
On Dec. 17, he filed four resolutions commending fellow Bicolanos, Miss Universe Catriona Gray and boxing champions Donnie Nietes, Jerwin Ancajas and Johnriel Casimero for their international achievements.
A lawyer by profession, Batocabe finished his Economics and Bachelor of Laws degrees, both with honors at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
While in law school, he worked in Congress as researcher, eventually being promoted as legislative staff chief, according to the website of Ako Bicol party-list group, of which he was the president.
Batocabe also took his Master’s in Public Administration at UP Diliman.
He graduated valedictorian from Aquinas University Science Oriented High School in Legazpi City.
The lawmaker is survived by his wife, Gertrudes “Gertie” Duran-Batocabe, and their two sons, Justin and Kiel.
Tainted by blood
Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo immediately ordered and investigation into the killing of Batocabe.
“Christmas should not be tainted by blood and I will not condone such violent and terroristic acts in this town,” Baldo said in a statement.
House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo denounced the killing and called for a speedy investigation to determine the identities of the perpetrators.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of an ally and friend … Nothing can justify his murder and that of his police aide,” Arroyo said.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said he was “completely outraged and distressed” by Batocabe’s murder.
“Politics must not be stained by the blood of politicians and partisans,” Lagman said.
Senators Sonny Angara, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito said they were outraged by the attack.
“This deplorable act of violence has no place in a democratic society like ours,” Angara said.
“We exhort authorities to act fast to make the killers accountable. This sorry history in our nation of political violence must stop,” Poe said.
Binay noted that election-related killings had increased in recent months.
A group of 50 House representatives have put up a P3-million reward for the capture of the gunmen.
Batocabe’s killing happened hours after a former mayor of Kadingilan town in Bukidnon, Joelito “Jukens” Talaid, was shot dead.
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