Philippine Daily Inquirer
‘Mayor’s family sees gov’t hand in slay’
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday that Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili’s murder “appears to be stage-managed.” He said that there was precision in the way Halili was killed. “And as indicated to me by the family when I visited [Halili’s wake last Wednesday], they were implying there were indicators that it was possible the government could be blamed for it,” the senator said.
The family of slain Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili believes the government was behind his killing, according to Sen. Panfilo Lacson who said on Thursday that he had launched his own investigation and that he already had a possible suspect.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police chief, also said he knew Halili when he was still in the service and had never heard of the mayor being involved in the illegal drug trade.
And given the way Halili had been put under surveillance prior to his killing and that he was shot from a distance by an apparently well-trained shooter, Lacson said those capable of doing that were either from the government or a well-organized and well-financed criminal group.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque dismissed as “speculation” the Halili family’s belief that the government had a hand in the mayor’s killing.
Roque said the police were looking at several possible motives that included the mayor’s alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, politics and business.
Lacson said it was a “big challenge” for the government to solve Halili’s killing “only because it appears to be stagemanaged.”
“There was precision [in the way Halili was killed]. And as indicated to me by the family when I visited [Halili’s wake last Wednesday], they were implying there were indicators that it was possible the government could be blamed for it,” the senator said.
Lacson said he spoke to family members of his “longtime friend” whom he met when he was still a young police officer and became “well-acquainted” with.
“[Halili] was not a saint or an angel. That much I can say. But his being involved in drugs, at least with the limited network I also have, I know he has no involvement,” he said.
Lacson, however, said that the slain mayor was involved in illegal gambling, particularly the numbers racket “jueteng.”
“That I can attest even today,” he said. “I don’t know if he stopped already. At least when I was chief PNP, I knew that he was operating.”
He said Halili’s family told him the mayor had been under surveillance for at least four weeks and those involved used two vehicles with “manufactured” license plates.
Lacson said the family shared their fears that “the government was possibly involved.”
To help the family, the senator said he was investigating Halili’s killing on his own and that he would share his findings with the PNP.
“More or less, I have an idea who is the possible suspect,” he said, declining to give details.
He recalled that when he and his former PNP colleagues conducted stakeouts and surveillance on crime suspects they, too, used fake car plates.
“The government should solve this to disabuse the thinking of the family that the government has a hand here,” he said.
The National Bureau of Investigation will be looking into the possibility that the murders of Halili and General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote on Tuesday could be part of the plot to destabilize the Duterte administration, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters.
Guevarra said he issued the order to the NBI following Roque’s statement that Halili and Bote might have been killed to “erode confidence in the President.”
The Nueva Ecija provincial government has put up a P1million reward for those involved in Bote’s killing, according to provincial administrator Alejandro Abesamis.
The Inquirer, meanwhile, obtained a copy of an Oct. 19, 2017 report by former Tanauan police chief Supt. Audi Madrideo who disputed a police intelligence report called IR D220 alleging that Halili was involved in the drug trade.
Madrideo vouched for Halili’s “all-out war” against illegal drugs, saying that the late mayor submitted its list of suspected drug personalities to the police for validation or operation.
Police searching the grassy knoll where the man who shot Halili had positioned himself recovered on Thursday an empty casing for a 5.56 mm bullet, the same caliber of the slug recovered from Halili’s chest.
PNP chief Oscar Albayalde told reporters that the investigating task force was looking into the possibility that Halili’s killing could have been triggered by the slain mayor’s land dispute with a “general.” He did not say whether it was a police or military general.
Dialogue with Duterte
Lacson welcomed a dialogue between the President and local officials and that this will help clear any misunderstandings and apprehensions.
Roque said President Duterte was open to a dialogue with local officials belonging to the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines who were concerned about the killings of the two mayors.