Lakas-CMD revokes nomination of Albay mayor in lawmaker’s slay
Lakas-Christian-Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) has rescinded its nomination of reelectionist Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo after the Philippine National Police tagged him last week as the brains behind the assassination of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe.
In a letter dated Jan. 3, Lakas-CMD executive director Bautista Corpin Jr. told the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the political party had decided to revoke the certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) it had issued to Baldo, a candidate in May’s midterm elections.
“Please be informed that Lakas-CMD is revoking the Cona issued to Mr. Baldo. Hence, Mayor Baldo is no longer the official candidate of Lakas-CMD for the position of mayor of Daraga,” Corpin said in the letter to the Comelec law department director, Maria Norina T. Casingal.
“Lakas-CMD strongly condemns the killing of Batocabe and his security aide. Violence of any form and for whatever reason has no place in our democratic institutions,” Corpin said.
Baldo could not be reached for comment on Sunday. The Inquirer’s calls to him for comment went unanswered.
Batocabe and his police bodyguard, SPO2 Orlando Diaz, were gunned down by four to six men as they left a Christmas event for senior citizens at Barangay Burgos in Daraga on Dec. 22.
Batocabe had filed a certificate of candidacy for mayor of Daraga, challenging Baldo for the top local office.
Relatives and local officials said Batocabe had received death threats after a local poll had shown him leading the field in the mayoral race.
Baldo denied having a hand in the assassination of Batocabe, but a former aide who claimed to have been part of the plan to kill the congressman came forward and pointed to him as the mastermind. Other suspects also tagged Baldo as the brains.
The PNP filed murder charges against Baldo and six other suspects on Thursday.
Five of the six men who carried out the assassination and who had either surrendered or had been arrested had submitted extrajudicial confessions in which they named Baldo as the one who had given orders to kill Batocabe, Chief Supt. Benigno Durana Jr., spokesperson for the PNP, told the Inquirer by text message on Sunday.
Durana named the five suspects as Christopher Naval, Emmanuel Rosello, Henry Yuson, Jaywin Babor and Danilo Muella.
Naval, Muella and Babor are former Army soldiers, while Arimado and Yuson, the alleged gunman, are former members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA), according to the PNP.
The communist leadership, however, belied the PNP claim that Yuson was a former NPA guerrilla.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the National Democratic Front-Bicol—the local political arm of the Philippine communist movement in the region—said Yuson was an active member of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) under the Bravo Company of the 22nd Infantry Battalion based at Barangay Bonga, Ligao town, Albay province.
Yuson and his brothers Andy and Arnel, both active military agents, have been found guilty by a people’s court of heinous crimes committed by the Bravo Company, including extrajudicial killings of NPA supporters and peasants in Albay last year, according to Maria Roja Banua, spokesperson for NDF-Bicol.
Banua also said Arimado, Rosello and Babor were military agents.
PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said on Thursday that all the suspects were employed as confidential staff with fictitious names in the office of the mayor of Daraga.
Yuson, who surrendered on Thursday said Baldo ordered him to kill Batocabe for P5 million.
He said Baldo, Muella and Naval, the leader of his former militia squad in the Visayas, began planning the assassination in August.
Baldo wanted Batocabe dead because he wanted “to sit permanently as mayor of Daraga,” Yuson said.
He said he was not paid for the job and accused Naval of running away with the money.
Durana said the suspects were assisted by lawyers when they gave their statements to investigators.
He said the confessions gave the PNP an airtight case against Baldo and the other suspects. —WITH REPORTS FROM MAR S. ARGUELLES AND JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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