Mayor on Duterte’s narc list assassinated during flag raising ceremony

By Rose Anne Dela Cruz

Antonio Halili, the mayor of Tanauan City in the Philippines, in 2016. He was the fourth Philippine mayor killed during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugsCreditBullit Marquez/Associated Press

IT was not a usual flag raising ceremony in Tanauan City Hall on Monday morning.

Mayor Antonio Halili was standing in attention singing the Lupang Hinirang when a single gunshot suddenly rang out from nowhere causing him to slump bloodied on the ground. He was rushed with a wound in the chest by his aides to a hospital where he was declared dead on arrival.

The assassin, who is believed to be a sharpshooter using an M-14 rifle, is still at large and now the subject of a hunt.

The mayor’s co-workers at the City Hall were shocked. They could not believe that their tough but popular chief executive is gone.

Video courtesy of PNP PRO4A

Halili is known for his “Walk of Shame” policy wherein he paraded drug dealers and other criminals in the city to shame them, that is long before President Rodrigo Duterte came into office and his “Oplan Tokhang” put into action. His tough policy against drugs and crime placed him in the crosshairs of human rights organizations.

Ironically, Halili’s name is included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco-list.” Because of this he was deprived of official Philippine National Police protection and stripped of control over the local police unit. He denied any involvement with illegal drugs saying that the allegations against him are all politically motivated but to no avail, his name stays in that list.

Halili is the fourth mayor to be killed under the Duterte administration’s war on drugs. However, the three other slain local executives, whose names were also in the narco-list, were killed during alleged shootouts, one was even shot dead in jail while allegedly resisting the authorities. This is the first time that an alleged narco-personality was killed in this fashion.

Meanwhile, PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde said the PNP has created a Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) regional level to investigate Halili’s killing. He said SITG members, under PNP Police Region Office-4A Regional Director Chief Supt. Edward Carranza, will reenact the incident once the needed reports are obtained.

As this developed, the police said they are looking into all angles.

“Right now we do not have definite motive yet but we are looking at all the possibilities like politics, Mayor’s “shame campaign” and his alleged involvement in illegal drug activities,” said Carranza.

As this developed, Carranza appealed to the public to report to authorities any information that may help in the resolution of Mayor Halili’s slay.

The public may contact 0945-764-4414; 0908-777-9992 or contact Tanauan City Police Station at 09393227848.

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Rose Anne Dela Cruz
Rose Anne or RA, as she is fondly called by those close to her, has a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Mass Communication from St. Paul University. She is one of the anchors of Global News Network, a television network in Manila.

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