Published: Wed, July 04, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Philippines mayor shot dead during flag-raising event

Philippines mayor shot dead during flag-raising event

Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili, known for his anti-crime crusade, was shot dead on Monday as he presided over the flag ceremony on the grounds of the city hall, police said.

City police chief Renato Mercado said the shot was sacked from about 150 meters away.

Gerry Laresma, the government employee who shot the video, told PNA it wasn't clear where the shot had originated.

"We are shocked, we are saddened", Vice Mayor Jhoanna Villamor, who was standing beside Halili, told radio station DZBB after the shooting.

She said that she fled inside the City Hall following the gunshot and that there were more shots fired by the mayor's security personnel, who had fired in the direction from where the sniper's shot came from.

He was brought to the CP Reyes Medical Center where he was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician, Dr. Alexandrix Carandang.

Mercado, the Tanauan police chief, said that the killing may be linked to the illegal drugs allegations.

Mr. Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, vowed justice for the mayor, describing him as a "staunch advocate against illegal drugs".

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The mayor's unusual campaign drew attention at a time of growing alarm over the rising number of killings of drug suspects under President Rodrigo Duterte.

He said Halili's death may be considered a "revenge killing", considering relatives of EJK victims know the killers. "Kunwari ipa-procession ang mga addicts, siya pala, siya 'yun", said Duterte. Halili was stripped of his powers to supervise local anti-drug operations in November 2017. "His procession of drug suspects was just a front", he said, later reportedly "walking back" his comments because police had not concluded this to be true.

More than 4,200 suspected drug dealers have been killed since Duterte launched his war on narcotics, police said.

"No one is safe - mayors, governors, congressmen - just a false intelligence report by the police can end up with any of them being destroyed", he said in an interview on August 2016, South China Morning Post reported.

"They call me the "Duterte of Batangas" Halili told CNN in 2016.

"I cant blame him for that, he's so misinformed".

"While Mayor Halili has been indicted for his supposed involvement in drugs and condemned for his "walk of shame" campaign, his assassination in broad daylight shows how the rule of law has been compromised and the rule of the jungle reigns", he added. "He may have deprived many Tanauan residents of due process but that doesn't mean he should be deprived of it too".

Of the drug charges, Halili had said, "I have been doing "walk of shame", I've been sending letters to suspected drug personalities, even before I have been doing my local version of tokhang [law enforcement]".

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