DARAGA, Albay — Old folks,all senior citizens, and disabled persons (PWDs) responded and attended the Christmas gift-giving on Saturday, December 22, at Barangay Burgos, this town, after news came about that Rodel Batocabe, candidate for mayor and outgoing Ako Bikol Partylist Congressman, would be the central figure in the Christmas event.
Outpouring of gunfire, instead of gifts
That Saturday Christmas party would be their most unforgettable event among senior citizens and disabled persons, while many had received their gifts, several of them took bullets in a hail of gunfire poured out from gunmen who were determined to snuff out Batocabe.
The Saturday occassion would be the last for Batocabe as he took several fatal gunshot wounds, and also the policeman escort who died from the hail of bullets.
Old folks, disabled persons injured in carnage
According to initial police report update, a total of 7 persons, old people, were injured, including two killed during the carnage at Burgos Elementary School, Purok 3, Barangay Burgos, Daraga, Albay, namely:
KILLED: Rodel Masigan Batocabe, 52 years old, Congressman of Ako Bikol (AKB) Partylist and aspiring candidate for Mayoralty of Daraga Albay and SPO2 Orlando Suruiz Diaz , 42 years old, PNP member assigned at PSPG detailed as personal security/escort of Cong. Batocabe, resident of NHA, Mayon Vista Subd., Brgy. Tuburan, Ligao City, who took two (2) gsw on his head, one (1) on his left chest, one (1) on his abdomen, one (1) on his right leg, and one (1) on his left leg.
INJURED: 7 elderly folks were injured, they are 1) Ellen Lapon Mansos, 63 years old, of Brgy. Kinawitan, Darag, Albay, sustained one (1) gunshot wound on her left arm; 2) Marina Belolo Mediavillo, 78 years old, of Brgy. Maopi, Daraga Albay, sustained lump on her head; 3) Florencita Lomerio Mendones, 67 years old of Brgy. Mabini, Daraga Albay, sustained one (1) gunshot wound on her left elbow; 4) Haydie Non Llorca, 61 years old of Brgy. Burgos, Darag Albay, sustained one (1) gsw on her left chest; 5) Gregorio Loterte Mediavillo, 79 years old, farmer of Brgy. Maopi, Daraga Albay, sustained one (1) gsw on his elbow and one (1) gsw on his right hips; 6) Jesus Llana Medes, 73 years old, farmer of Brgy. Maopi, Darag Albay, sustained one (1) gsw on left buttocks; and 7) Nelia Mancera Millena, 71 years old, residents of Purok 3, Brgy. Burgos, Darag Albay.
Police said about more or less six (6) unidentified gunmen were involved in the killing.
Read related story: Bicol lawmaker, police bodyguard gunned down in Daraga, Albay
Php 30 million reward money
Meanwhile, a 30-million peso reward money was offered for the arrest of the gunmen and early solution on the case. It was not made clear if the reward money will come from Batocabe’s family, Ako Bicol Partylist, or close friends.
It was not known if the bounty offer was taken seriously by the public or law-enforcement authorities. It is also not clear if the reward money would come from people’s money or public funds.
Reaction from Vice President Robredo
Meanwhile, Vide President Leni Robrado was shocked upon learning the tragic fate of Batocabe and other innocent victims and called for end of impunity under the Duterte regime.
Vice President Robredo said: “Rodel (Batocabe) was a fellow Bicolano, my batchmate and dorm mate in UP Diliman, and a colleague in the 16th Congress. He was smart and eloquent, witty and cheerful, a person who lived life to the fullest. He will be missed, both for his service and his friendship.
But beyond my personal grief at his passing, is the growing rage at yet another brazen murder, committed in broad daylight, in the middle of a crowd. This cannot, and must not be the new normal; when Filipinos, young and old, rich and poor, are gunned down in cold blood as a matter of course, and where none of us can feel safe. This impunity must end.”
PNP chief Albayade
PNP Chief Oscar David Albayade said Saturday he has directed the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group to mobilise all available resources and to orchestrate all aspects of investigation to ensure that justice is served as soon as possible to both the victims and their families.
“We appeal to the public to immediately report to the police any information that could lead us to the perpetrators and to help us quickly solve this case,” Albayade appealed to the public.
Batocabe gone, who will benefit from Daraga Mayoralty race?
Batocabe on October filed his candidacy for mayor in Daraga after his term will end on 2019 for finishing his 3-term as representative of Ako Bicol Partylist, under the National Unity Party (NUP).
He was supposed to fight incumbent town mayor Carlwyn Baldo and vice mayor Victor Perete, who also decided to run for mayor.
It was supposed to be a three-cornered fight among the three officials.
Batocabe was principal author/co-author of a number of laws, among them Republic Act (RA) No. 10692 (Modernization of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration); RA 10687 (A Comprehensive and Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education); and RA 10679 (Promoting Entrepreneurship and Financial Education among Filipino Youth).
Meanwhile, House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) on Friday urged authorities to leave no stone unturned in going after the killers of AKO BICOL party-list representative Rodel Batocabe.
“Cong. Batocabe is a big loss to the electoral tribunal. We are outraged at his senseless killing. I am shocked and deeply saddened by this threacherous attack. His views are quite insightful. It is always very interesting to debate with him,” SC Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said.
Batocabe was a member of HRET which is composed of three senior SJ justices and six House members and adjudicates election related controversies involving members of Congress.
“Those responsible should be apprehended at the soonest possible time to show to the public that crime never pays and to deter those thinking of sowing violence from proceeding with their sinister plans, especially during this time when elections are fast approaching,” Peralta added. [BicolToday.com]