Destabilization Eyed In Local Execs’ Slays

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will look into the recent spate of killings of local executives to determine if these were interrelated and had something to do with a supposed destabilization plot.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has ordered the NBI to probe the killing of Trece Martires City vice mayor Alex Lubigan in Cavite last Saturday – the third local executive to be murdered in a week.

Guevarra directed the NBI to include Lubigan’s case in its fact-finding investigation on the killing of Tanauan City mayor Antonio Halili last Monday and of General Tinio mayor Ferdinand Bote the following day.

“I have instructed (NBI) Director (Dante) Gierran to determine if there is a pattern in these three cases or if they were unrelated,” Guevarra said in a text message yesterday, adding that “we need immediate results.”

Lubigan, 44, was gunned down in front of a Korean hospital on Saturday. He was in a black Toyota Hilux vehicle in Barangay Luciano, Trece Martires City when the still unidentified suspects shot him at around 3 p.m. His driver-bodyguard Romulo Guilemer was also killed.

Destabilization eyed in local execs’ slays© Ernie Peñaredondo Destabilization eyed in local execs’ slays

Among the motives being looked into by the police is local politics, as residents talked of the vice mayor’s intention to run for mayor in next year’s elections. The residents claimed Lubigan was not known to have engaged in illegal activities. He was also not in the drug watchlist.

In Halili’s killing, the police task group is already tracking several vehicles that could have been used for a getaway.

Senior Supt. Nolasco Bathan, task group head and deputy regional director for operations, said his men are determining the vehicle owners who might be able to help solve the killing of the former Tanauan City mayor who was buried yesterday.

But Guevarra wanted the NBI to look into the bigger picture on the killing of Halili, Bote and Lubigan and find out if these are inter-connected and part of a scheme to destabilize the Duterte administration.

“The NBI will look at all possible angles because we have to leave no stone unturned,” he stressed.

Earlier, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the successive murders could be perpetrated by certain groups to “erode confidence in the President” as the Armed Forces of the Philippines revealed the discovery of documents relating to a communist plot to oust Duterte by October.

Guevarra gave assurance that the NBI would look into all possible angles, including the possible relation of Halili’s killing to the illegal drug trade and politics for that of Bote and Lubigan.

More killings

Director General Oscar Albayalde, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, is disturbed with the series of killings and made an appeal for the public to help in solving the cases by providing information that could lead to the identification, arrest and prosecution of their attackers and possibly the masterminds.

“We are disturbed and saddened by this and similar incidents involving our local chief executives,” he said in a statement.?Aside from Halili, Bote and Lubigan, the police also reported the killing of Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur councilor Nassif Palawan Basil last Saturday.

Senior Inspector Jemar delos Santos, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) police spokesman, said the attack was made in the neighboring Balabagan town, adding that former barangay chairman Alvin Abdullah Sampulna and two others were wounded in the attack.

Initial investigation showed that the four victims were inside the compound of former mayor Hadji Amer Sampiano for a visit when five unidentified persons entered and fired at them.

In Bacolod City, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Martin Diño advised local government officials to double their security, especially if they are receiving threats to life.

He said the DILG is more than willing to extend protection to the local officers as they perform their duties.

– With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ed Amoroso, Gilbert Bayoran

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Destabilization eyed in local execs’ slays
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