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2 more killings added to police statistics

TWO more mayors were killed this week – Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan, Batangas, and Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. They are the fourth and fifth mayors to be killed since October last year, when Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao, was killed in a shoot-out at a police checkpoint. The next month, November, Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Abuera, Leyte, was killed right inside his prison cell at the Baybay City Subprovincial Jail in Leyte. Last July, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City in Misamis Occidental, was killed with 11 others in a dawn raid on his home by police serving a search warrant.

Mayor Halili’s death was the most unusual – he was killed by a sniper from 200 meters away. He had earlier been in the news for his practice of parading arrested suspected drug dealers and drug addicts in a “walk of shame” through the town’s streets. President Duterte, however, had Halili on his narco list.

The mayor was killed during last Monday’s flag-raising ceremony at city hall, as some 400 municipal officials and employees sang the National Anthem. A sniper’s bullet hit him in the chest as he stood in a row with city officials. No suspect was arrested. The killer appeared to have made a clean get-away. Police are now on alert against assassinations by snipers.

Many previous killings had been by killers riding motorcycles in tandem. This was the case with Mayor Bote who was killed by two men on a motorcycle who just drove up to his car in Cabanatuan City and opened fire.

Whether these killings are drug-related or not, they are additional sad statistics in the country’s peace and order situation. They will be added to the 22,983 killings filed by the Philippine National Police under “Deaths Under Inquiry” in the last two years.
Special efforts must be made to solve these many deaths, particularly those of prominent people like Mayor Halili and Mayor Bote. We may be making great national economic progress, with one of the highest Gross National Products (GNP) in our part of the world, but without peace and order, with so many killings, our people will not be able to appreciate all the progress we are having.