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Tanauan, Batangas mayor shot dead at City Hall flag raising rites

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(Photo from ABS-CBN News)


TANAUAN CITY, Batangas — Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili who was known for ordering suspected criminals to take "walks of shame" in the city streets and was also originally linked to illegal drugs, was shot dead Monday morning (July 2) while attending the city hall's flag raising ceremony.


Police said an unidentified gunman shot Halili in the chest. The mayor was declared dead on arrival at the CP Reyes Medical Center where he was rushed, according to Calabarzon police director Chief Supt. Edward Carranza.


The gunman may have been positioned in some bushes 150 meters away from the city hall but others theorized the killer may have fired from the City Hall, said Carranza.


Carranza, Calabarzon police director, said no other person was hurt in the shooting.


Authorities estimate that the killer was believed to have used a sniper rifle.


Malacañang immediately denounced Halili's killing and promised to bring the gunman to justice.


Halili was wearing a black suit and a pair of blue jeans during the flag raising ceremony when he was shot.


"Kinokendena po natin itong pagpatay kay Mayor Halili... Sa pamilya at sa mga constituents ni Mayor Halili, bibigyan natin sila ng katarungan. Iimbestigahan, lilitisin ang mga tao na nasa likod ng pagpatay kay mayor (We condemn the killing of Mayor Halili. We will give justice to the family and constituents of Mayor Halili. We will investigate and try the people behind the mayor's killing.)," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.


Roque, however, would not comment on Halili's alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade, saying the government's priority is to give justice to the slain mayor's family and his constituents.


"Sa ngayon po siguro makikiramay muna kami sa pamilya ng napaslang na Mayor Halili. Saka na po natin pag-usapan 'yan. May mga panahon po dapat pag-usapan 'yan. Ngayon po'y panahon ng pagdadalamhati at pagbibigay ng pakikiramay," the Palace spokesman said.


“Apparently, tinarget po s’ya [Apparently, he was targeted],” said Gerry Laresma, Tanauan information officer.


Halili made headlines in 2016 when he paraded suspected drug criminals in public.


He, however, was included on the list of high-value drug targets of the police and subjected to "Oplan Tokhang." Halili had denied the allegation that he was involved in narcotics.


In 2017, he lost supervision over the police, along with other officials accused of dabbling with the narcotics trade.


A Facebook Live video by Gerry Yson Laresma, Tanauan City Information Officer, showed Halili standing with other city officials while the national anthem was being played when a gunshot was heard.


The National Police Commission (Napolcom), in an October 30, 2017 resolution, included Halili in the list of five Southern Tagalog mayors whose operational supervision and control over the police were revoked because of their supposed link to narcotics.


The mayor, who paraded in public suspected thieves and drug pushers in his town and was known as the “Duterte of Batangas,” denied the allegation, saying politics was behind Napolcom’s move.


“I am ready to pay one million pesos to this police intelligence officer behind this report linking me to illegal drugs and I will resign as mayor if this report can be supported by evidence,” Halili said during a media forum in November 2017.


In an interview in July 2015, Halili said he admired then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s leadership.


Natutuwa kami sa nakita namin sa Davao; may natutunan kami although ‘yong ginagawa nila do’n ginagawa na rin (naman) namin sa Tanauan [We are happy with what we saw in Davao; we learned a few things, but there are policies that we saw there that we have already been implementing in our city],” he said.


Halili won the 2010 and 2013 mayoral polls under the banner of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. He won his third term during the 2016 elections under the Liberal Party.

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