Legazpi City—Philippine National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde rejected calls Sunday to provide additional police security to mayors and vice mayors, even as the vice mayor of Trece Martires City and a municipal councilor in Kapatagan, Lanao del Sur were shot dead in separate incidents.
Trece Martires City Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan, 44, and his driver Romulo Guillemer, 58, were shot dead by gunmen while traversing the Trece Martires-Indang Road onboard a black Toyota Hilux in Barangay Luciano Saturday.
In Lanao del Sur, Municipal Councilor Nassif Palawan Bansil was shot dead after five gunmen entered a house where he was in and opened fire, wounding three others.
On July 2, Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was shot by an unidentified gunman while attending the morning flag-raising rites at city hall. General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote was killed in an ambush in Cabanatuan City on July 3.
“We are still investigating the incident as to the motive of the killings of local officials,” Albayalde said of the vice mayor’s killing. “There are many angles that police are investigating in the recent killings like political motive, drugs, and other angles.”
“We don’t need to be afraid or worry as these [killings] were all not systematic and patterned,” he added.
Albayalde said the PNP provides at least two police personnel to mayors and vice mayors and said they cannot give them more as the police force might run out of officers.
He urged local officials to hire additional security if they think their lives are in danger.
He added that they can also coordinate with their local police to provide additional security if they plan to visit critical areas where there will be large gatherings.
Authorities said Lubigan was not included in the government’s “narco-list” of politicians linked to the illegal drug trade.
“As you know, during elections, people get killed before, during and after the elections—winners and losers alike,” Albayalde said in Filipino. “[W]e are doing everything to solve these cases and we are assuring the public that we will deliver justice especially to the family of the victims.”
He also appealed to anyone with information about the cases to come forward to help the police.
The National Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, has been ordered to conduct a thorough investigation into the Lubigan killing.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Sunday that he has directed NBI Director Dante Gierran to determine whether Lubigan’s killing was related to the deaths of Halili and Bote last week.
“There’s another ambush. This time the vice mayor of Trece Martires City was the target. I have instructed Director Dante Gierran to include this in the NBI’s ongoing investigation and determine if there’s a pattern or if the incidents were unrelated,” Guevarra said, in a text message.
“We need immediate results,” he added.
Lubigan is the third local government official killed within last week. Authorities have already started investigating the killings of both Halili and Bote.
Halili, who among the local officials included in the narco-list, was shot dead while attending a flag-raising ceremony last Monday.
On Tuesday, Bote was killed in an ambush in Cabanatuan City.
Malacañang, meanwhile, condemned the killing of Lubigan.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque called on the PNP to conduct “a fair and through investigation” and get to the bottom of the crime.
He also called for cooperation to stop the rising number of killings involving local government officials.
“We must band together and put an end to the worrisome incidents of violence involving local politicians,” he said. With PNA