By Macon Araneta i FilAm Star Correspondent
Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, notorious for parading alleged drug suspects in”walks of shame” (which consequently drew an investigation by the Commission on Human Rights) was shot dead while attending city hall’s flag raising ceremony last July 2.
Halili was brought to CP Reyes Medical Hospital where he was declared dead at 8:45 a.m.
Prior to the shooting, Halili, along with the city vice-mayor and the city council, occupied the first row on the city hall grounds while behind them were department heads and the rest of the city government employees.
A Facebook Live posting by Gerry Yson Laresma, Tanauan City Information Officer, showed Halili standing with other city officials when a gunshot was heard as the national anthem played. He clutched his chest then collapsed on the floor.
To encourage rehabilitated drug dependents, the slain mayor recently re-branded his walk of shame” to “walk of change”
Despite his hardline stance against illegal drugs, he was stripped of his supervising powers over the city’s police force in November 2017, after he was linked by the government to the illegal drugs trade. He strongly denied the allegations.
Senate President Ralph Recto said there’s a sniper on the loose in his province, Batangas, where Halili was killed. He said Halili is the latest politician in the province to be felled by a marksman’s bullet.
Batangas, Recto said, is littered with bodies of political assassinations and unsolved murders, and each unsolved killing emboldens the next, creating a spiral of violence, which authorities cannot seem to stop.
“When the rule of law is more observed in the breach, including by agents of the state who do it with impunity, it incentivizes people to take the law into their own hands, and indicts the police for failing to stop it.
When killings are rewarded by the failure of authorities to solve them, Recto said it strengthens the culture of violence, where disagreements are settled by permanently silencing the opponent.
“Tony Halili was a colorful man who had done many great things for his people and Tanauan city. He had a governance style that was unconventional in some aspects but it effectively kept the city he loved safe and prosperous,” added Recto.
Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said the killing of Halili is clearly another case of EJKresulting from the so-called drug war launched by the government.
“We reiterate: the everyday killings of our citizens do not and will not solve the drug
problem,” he said.
After two years of killings, he said syndicates continue their illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prisons. And that nobody has been jailed for the PHP 6.4-billion Bureau of Customs shabu smuggling controversy.
“These may be revenge killings as EJK victims know who killed their relatives,” said Pangilinan as he related that this thing happened in Thailand during its own drug war in the early 2000s.
He said It is the government’s duty to prevent and solve criminality and the breakdown in the rule of law.
“It is this Philippine image of a ‘wild, wild west’ that has also dampened the desire of both foreign and local investors from investing, thereby slowing down our economic development and preventing much needed employment opportunities and jobs for our citizens,” said Pangilinan.
Sen. JV Ejercito condemned this cowardly act. “I am concerned with the recent killings of priests and government officials. This should challenge the PNP to further improve their capability to protect the Filipino people,” he said.
He asserted that one requisite of a developing nation is to have a conducive atmosphere for business to grow.
Violent assassinations, Ejercito said, are blackeyes to this goal of achieving peace for economic development.
Sen. Sonny Angara also echoed Ejercito’s sentiments, saying that regardless of the motive, he said the PNP and DILG need to exhaust all means to bring the perpetrators to justice.