PNP lists 6 persons of interest in Batocabe assassination
Updated @ 1:14 a.m., Dec. 27, 2018
LEGAZPI CITY — The Philippine National Police chief on Wednesday said investigators had at least six persons of interest in the assassination of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe at a remote village in Daraga town, Albay province, on Saturday.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde also dismissed as propaganda the denial of the communist New People’s Army (NPA) that it had a hand in the killing of Batocabe.
Albayalde said the investigation remained focused on politics as motive for the killing with the possible involvement of NPA rebels.
Guns for hire
The PNP chief said that while the NPA could say that it was not involved in the plot to kill Batocabe, it had no control over guerrillas who could be doubling as guns for hire and working for politicians.
“It is difficult to say that it (the killing of Batocabe) was not sanctioned by the movement, as those that are involved in the gun-for-hire (trade), or the hit men, are the same people [who] are in their organization,” Albayalde told reporters.
Batocabe and his police bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz, were gunned down by up to six men as they left a Christmas event for senior citizens at Barangay Burgos in Daraga on Saturday afternoon.
The congressman’s relatives and city officials said politics was the most plausible motive for the attack, as he had received death threats after a local poll had shown that he was at the head of the field in next year’s mayoral race in Daraga.
Gertie Duran-Batocabe, the lawmaker’s widow, on Tuesday dismissed the police theory of an NPA hit, saying the insurgents had nothing to gain from killing her husband.
“They just did it in a village in the mountains to make it look like, you know,” she said.
“What will they (the NPA) get if they kill my husband? We have not opposed their principles. So the question is, Who will gain from his death? Simple,” the widow said.
No direct links yet
Albayalde said investigators had established the identities of at least six people who might have links to the attack on Batocabe.
He said the six were still persons of interest, as the authorities had no evidence yet to directly link them to the killing.
Albayalde declined to name them to avoid jeopardizing the investigation.
The PNP chief eased concerns that the investigation would be whitewashed, and gave assurance that justice would be served.
He said he had directed Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, chief of PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, to oversee the investigation.
The National Bureau of Investigation has also been tapped for a parallel investigation of the case, he said.
Local official involved?
As for reports about a local official possibly behind the assassination of Batocabe, Albayalde said: “We have no substantial evidence yet to link this official to the incident. But we are not discounting the possibility. He is not totally off the hook in this case.”
The police chief traveled here on Wednesday to look into the progress of the investigation.
He also went to Diaz’s wake and handed the PNP Heroism Medal to the widow of the slain policeman.
Albayalde also dismissed talk of Bicol being placed under martial law following the series of NPA attacks in the region and the killing of Batocabe.
He said certain conditions must be present before any part of the country could be placed under military rule.
“So far those [conditions] are not yet present in Bicol,” Albayalde said.
“Only the President can decide this,” he added. —With a report from Michael Jaucian
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