PNP: 'Daraga mayor is Rodel Batocabe slay brains'

Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star
PNP: 'Daraga mayor is Rodel Batocabe slay brains'
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde presents a diagram linking Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo (inset) and other individuals to the killing of Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe during a press conference at Camp Crame yesterday.
Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday tagged Mayor Carlwyn Baldo of Daraga, Albay as the mastermind in the murder of Ako Bicol party-list representative Rodel Batocabe last Dec. 22.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said charges of double murder and six counts of frustrated murder were filed against Baldo before the Albay provincial prosecutor’s office.

Named as Baldo’s co-accused are alleged gunmen Henry Yuson and Rolando Arimado, the drivers of the getaway motorcycles namely Emmanuel Rosello and Jaywin Babor, the mayor’s security aide Cristopher Naval and Danilo Muella.

Of the six, Naval and Rosello are in police custody while the rest are still at large.

Naval, allegedly Baldo’s security aide, has signed an extrajudicial confession implicating the mayor in Batocabe’s killing.

Rosello was arrested yesterday morning in Daraga while Naval surrendered to authorities last Dec. 30.

“This is a victory for the rule of law in this country. This is also a stern warning against those unscrupulous politicians who will resort to violence to gain elected position. The long arm of the law will eventually catch you,” Albayalde said at a press briefing.

He asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue an immigration lookout bulletin against Baldo and the other suspects to prevent them from leaving the country.

He also ordered the revocation of the mayor’s permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) and his deputation to supervise the local police of Daraga.

The PNP has revoked the licenses of the firearms owned by Baldo, Albayalde said yesterday.

Based on records from the PNP Firearms and Explosives Office (FEO), Baldo owns four firearms consisting of a .223 caliber rifle, one 12 gauge shotgun and two .45 caliber pistols.

Baldo’s license to own and possess firearms outside of residence is set to expire on June 30, 2019.

It means Baldo must surrender the firearms or face additional charges.

Albayalde said they have not spoken to Baldo and have no intention to do so.

“He should just probably submit himself to the court, not to us anymore,” he said.

Batocabe and his bodyguard Senior Police Officer 1 Orlando Diaz were shot dead by armed men as they were boarding a vehicle after a gift-giving activity for senior citizens in Barangay Burgos in Daraga last Dec. 22.

Seven people were also injured in the shooting, six of whom suffered gunshot wounds.

The major breakthrough in the case came when Baldo’s former associate Emmanuel Judavar surfaced and divulged the plot to kill Batocabe, who was one of the mayor’s opponents in the coming local elections.

Judavar told probers that he was part of the plan but he backed out sometime in October because of a personal conflict with Baldo. This was corroborated by Naval who revealed that the plan to assassinate Batocabe was hatched sometime in August 2018 when the lawmaker announced his bid for the mayoral post of Daraga.

Baldo allegedly offered P5 million for the hit job the following month and gave a downpayment of P250,000 for the purchase of guns and motorcycles.

According to Albayalde, the suspects are former military and paramilitary personnel as well as ex-communist rebels who were employed by Baldo as confidential staff, receiving P7,000 in monthly salary.

“We have not established when this group was formed. What we know is they are working in the Bicol region,” he said.

The group’s first attempt on Batocabe was during the lawmaker’s routine engagements at local radio station dzJB and Hotel Venezia in Legazpi City. It was not clear why the initial plot fell through.

Judavar also positively identified two of the suspects, Rosello and Babor, who were among the people in the crowd during Batocabe’s gift-giving activity based on photographs provided by citizens present at the event.

Albayalde said Batocabe’s killing was politically motivated as Baldo utilized the services of his henchmen, some of whom were once affiliated with the New People’s Army (NPA).

“We said before it is possible that there are NPAs who are involved here,” he said.

Albayalde, meanwhile, is leaving it to other authorities if Judavar is entitled to the P50-million reward offer for the resolution of the case.

Lawyer Justin Batocabe lauded the PNP for resolving his father’s murder.

“These fruits of hard labor of our investigative bodies are very much welcome,” the younger Batocabe said at the same briefing.

He said it has been difficult for the family to cope with his father’s death, which took place during the holiday season.

“Killing someone for money, for political position, that is something we will never accept,” he said

The younger Batocabe said the family has not yet decided if his mother Gertie would take the place of his late father and run for mayor of Daraga.

“There are calls for my mother to substitute but as of the moment, we are still discussing it,” he said.

Probers cited

Malacañang lauded the police for identifying the alleged mastermind of the Batocabe slay, describing the development as a “breakthrough in the pursuit of justice for the victims and their families.”

“Daraga, Albay Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, together with all others tagged as suspects of the aforesaid murder, will have their day in court where they can refute the charges hurled against them,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.  

“While they too are afforded the constitutional presumption of innocence and consequently will be accorded due process, the government shall nonetheless prosecute them for the heinous crime without delay,” he added. 

Panelo urged the police and the local community to work together to suppress and solve “acts of lawlessness” in their respective areas. 

Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año yesterday lauded police investigators for solving the murder of Batocabe and his bodyguard.

Año commended Albayalde for cracking the case and identifying Mayor Baldo as the mastermind.

“The breakthrough in this case occurred because of relentless police investigation and intelligence operations and we shall apply this standard in all possible acts of ‘political terrorism’ in connection with the forthcoming elections,” Año said in a statement.

Año believes they have an airtight case in court against Baldo and his alleged cohorts as the PNP has in its custody eyewitnesses and other pieces of evidence that point to the mayor.

He likewise directed the National Police Commission (Napolcom) to revoke Baldo’s authority to supervise the Daraga police force.

“Let this, therefore, serve as a stern warning against all politicians not to intimidate, harass or do violence against their political opponents in the forthcoming elections,” he said.

Sen. Richard Gordon commended the PNP for the swift resolution of the assassination of Batocabe.

Noting that it is a good start to the year, Gordon, chairman of the committee on justice and human rights, also expressed hope that the PNP will continue to work towards swift justice and that the people could always aid and trust the PNP as they did in the Batocabe case.

Rep. Ron Salo of party-list Kabayan urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday to place Daraga under its control to ensure peaceful and honest voting in the town in May.

He made the appeal hours after the PNP claimed that Baldo masterminded the killing of his rival, congressman Batocabe.

“While the incumbent mayor, in the eyes of the law, is innocent until proven otherwise, the Comelec must be persuaded to exercise abundance of caution and consider the integrity of the local Daraga elections,” Salo said.

He said the resort to violence “is the highest form of savagery and has no place in a civilized society.”

“It is outright condemnable and the mastermind and his co-principals should be immediately made legally accountable. This is a crucial step in attaining justice for the late Cong. Rodel and his family, as well as to the people of Daraga,” he said. 

The Batocabes are planning to field another of their own against Baldo, who has claimed he had nothing to do with the murder. – With Jess Diaz, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Alexis Romero



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