Grief before Christmas*

IT is truly saddening that some people would rather shroud their fellow men in grief and bring sadness rather than spread love and happiness this holiday season.

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara revealed that a whopping PhP30 million has been offered by some congressmen and the provincial government of Albay for anyone who can provide information on the identity of the mastermind and the gunmen who slew Ako Bicol Party-list Representative Rodel Batocabe and his police escort, Senior Police Officer 2 Orlando Diaz, in Albay over the weekend.

The 52-year-old Batocabe and Diaz were busy handing gifts to senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Daraga, Albay when at least six men showed up and shot them dead. It was Batocabe’s last term as congressman and he was running for Daraga mayor in the coming election.

Several senior citizens were also wounded in the attack. The heartless assault was done on the 26th wedding anniversary of the Batocabes. The victim left behind a wife and two children.

Initial investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) suggested that the incident was politically motivated. Probers were also looking at the possible link between politics and communist activity in the attack.

A regional police official disclosed that Batocabe recently expressed his apprehension allegedly over some of his political opponents for the mayoral post who have been employing armed groups to influence the Elections.

Apart from Batocabe and his escort, two other men were gunned down last Saturday. Jolito Jakosalim Talaid, former mayor of Kadingilan town in Bukidnon, was about to board his car when attacked in Cagayan de Oro City on Saturday morning. Eduardo Panganiban, barangay chairperson of Panghayaan in Taysan town, Batangas was also shot by three men inside his garage at 7 a.m.

The killers, who had the gall to deprive three families of their loved ones three days before Christmas, remain unidentified.

At this point in time when countries are calling for world peace and leaders condemning the use of arms, especially nuclear weapons, it is disappointing that some people are still unaware of the true value of human life. If these senseless attacks continue, none of us would ever feel truly safe. Where are the police when you need them the most?

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SHORT BURSTS. May the Spirit of the Christmas season bring joy to all. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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