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Halili's family suspects government hand in mayor's killing, says Lacson

Audrey Morallo - Philstar.com
Halili's family suspects government hand in mayor's killing, says Lacson
The parking lot of the municipal hall where Tanauan city Mayor Antonio Halili was killed is seen from a position believed to be used by the sniper just outside the municipal hall in Batangas province, south of Manila on Monday, July 2, 2018. Halili, known for parading drug suspects in public but also alleged to have drug ties himself was shot and killed by a sniper Monday in a brazen attack during a flag-raising ceremony in front of hundreds of horrified employees and village leaders.
AP / Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — The family of slain Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili suspects that the government is behind the brazen killing of the local government executive early this week, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson said, an accusation Malacañang denied.

In a press conference in the Senate, Lacson said that the family implied in their talks with the senator their suspicion that the killing of Halili was state-sanctioned.

"The family has suspicions which they shared with me yesterday that it was possible that the government was involved. I want to calm them not to immediately accuse the government and wait for the police to finish their investigation," the senator, a former chief of the Philippine National Police, said in Filipino.

He said that family thought that the surveillance for and the execution of the killing bore evidence of a possible involvement of the government in the daylight attack.

He said that the precision of the shot and the use of manufactured license plates for vehicles used in doing surveillance on the fallen mayor showed that the people behind it had the "capacity" to do so.

"As indicated to me by the family, they were implying that there were indicators that it was possible, that they were like blaming the government," he said, adding that the family's trust in the government is not that solid.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, meanwhile, labeled as "unfounded speculation" allegations that Halili was gunned down by state forces due to his supposed connection with illegal drugs.

He said that his possible involvement in illegal drugs was just one of the angles being probed by the Philippine National Police.

Roque said that the police were also looking into business and politics as other possible motives in the killing of Halili, who became controversial in 2016 for his policy of parading drug suspects wearing shirts or cardboards that read that they should not be emulated through Tanaun's streets.

"Well that's speculation. Unfounded at that. Apparently, different aspects are coming out in the investigation of Halili," Roque said in a press briefing at the presidential palace.

He also denied that the government's list of politicians involved in illegal drugs was a kill list.

"No because there's no mandate to kill them," he said.

When asked if the recent spate of killings of local government executives was a reason to push for the return of the death penalty, Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte had been consistent in his support for the return of capital punishment especially for big drug cases.

"In fairness, no one is accusing the government of involvement in the killing of mayor Bote because he is an administration ally," he said.

Bote was a member of the ruling PDP-Laban party, and his killing was condemned by the party's president, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, as a "datardly and cowardly" act.

Halili was shot in the chest during Monday's flag-raising rites in Tanauan's city hall while General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote was killed during a street attack while he was leaving a government office compound the following day.

The killings sparked widespread concerns that the Philippines was plunging into a "culture of impunity" and regime of violence, a claim denied by Roque.

vuukle comment

ANTONIO HALILI

FERDINAND BOTE

PANFILO LACSON

RODRIGO DUTERTE

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