Philippine Daily Inquirer

‘Mayor’s fam­ily sees gov’t hand in slay’

- —STORY BY CHRIS­TINE O. AVEN­DAÑO Crime · Incidents · Politics · Panfilo Lacson · Philippine National Police · Harry Roque · FBI · Nueva Ecija · Rodrigo Duterte · Audi · Oscar Albayalde · Philippines · Latin America News · Tanauan City · General Tinio

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.

Pos­si­ble mo­tives

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.

Il­le­gal gam­bling

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.

Marks­man­ship

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.”

P1-M re­ward

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.

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 ?? —LYN RILLON ?? REEN­ACT­MENT A Spe­cial Ac­tion Force com­mando aims his firearm from a spot on an el­e­vated ground where the al­leged as­sailant of Tanauan Mayor An­to­nio Halili shot the lo­cal of­fi­cial dur­ing Thurs­day’s po­lice reen­act­ment of the killing.
—LYN RILLON REEN­ACT­MENT A Spe­cial Ac­tion Force com­mando aims his firearm from a spot on an el­e­vated ground where the al­leged as­sailant of Tanauan Mayor An­to­nio Halili shot the lo­cal of­fi­cial dur­ing Thurs­day’s po­lice reen­act­ment of the killing.

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