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Murdered New Zealand man “involved in legal dispute”

Screengrab from the CCTV footage that helped identify the alleged killers. Picture via the Biliran Island Facebook page

The New Zealander gunned down in Naval, Biliran, this week was involved in a legal dispute in the months leading up to his murder.

Simon Rawlinson had been urged by concerned friends to leave the Philippines as he tussled with local authorities over access rights to his waterfront home on Maripipi Island. 

Commenting on our previous report on the killing, a PLN reader called Celia said: “My partner and I were friends of Simon and are devastated by this murder. Simon has been challenged a lot recently and I believe this may be a result of the legal aspects he has been fighting against.”

Other sources told the Waikato Times that a group of locals were planning to declare the retired ship builder and fisherman a “persona non grata” and have him kicked out of the country.

The 63-year-old was gunned down by motorcyclists riding in tandem early on Wednesday morning after visiting a market.

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The alleged lookout Manuelito Estreller and the suspected gunman Antonio Robaro, a local farmer, have both been arrested, while the search continues for the motorcycle driver.

Suspected gunman Antonio Robaro in Naval jail. Picture via the Biliran Island Facebook page

Speaking to the Waikako times, one friend of Mr Rawlinson, who asked not to be named, said: “I told him numerous times that he was a stranger in a strange land and to get out of the Philippines, but he would not listen.”

In April, Mr Rawlinson sent an email to friends saying he was embroiled in a long-running dispute with the Barangay Captain and council over a pathway to his home.

Mr Rawlinson had been due to return to New Zealand next week, but had delayed his return because of cold weather, which he told friends aggravated his arthritis.

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It was this ailment that spurred him to leave his hometown of Hamilton in New Zealand for warmer climes about six or seven years ago.

As we have previously reported, the killing is the third shooting of a foreigner by gunmen riding in tandem on the Eastern Visayan island in recent times.

In June last year we reported how 74-year-old Henk Nuits, a Dutch businessman, was shot dead by a pillion rider. His 11-year-old son, Jake Henry, was shot in the chest but survived.

Then, in March this year, former US Marine Harvey Abrams was also shot by motorcycle-riding assassins.

In both these previous killings the victims were driving their own vehicles when targeted, while Mr Rawlinson was on foot.

Biliran is one of the smallest provinces of the Philippines, with a population of about 170,000.

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6 Comments on "Murdered New Zealand man “involved in legal dispute”"

  1. Despite the common view locals can not declare and foreigner persona non grata and nor can they ‘kick’ someone out of the country – only the Bureau of Immigration can do that and only for serious criminal reasons and certainly not for trivial civil matters. Locals seem to think they have only to request that someone is ‘kicked’ out (often for childish and trivial matters) and it is done. Happily there is a process that has to be followed. Unhappily due process is rarely followed. Sadly it is common in the Philippines that when a local can’t compete they simply cheat and the ultimate cheat is murder.

  2. Vet for justice | July 29, 2017 at 10:54 am | Reply

    I’ve seen the same thing here as many of the locals have that attitude. He probably bought land in good faith and then denied access until he pays up. Thats a real typical scam here as I went throught it myself. I am surprised anyone got arrested though as they usually don’t.

    • Still not right killing him,, maybe it’s about money.. I am so pissed about this because I am thinking of building a house there and want to retire there, but I guess this is not gonna good for me as the situation getting worse..

  3. So sad Filipinos resort to this behavior. Shame on them in the eyes of God.

  4. There are things you do in the Philippines and things you don’t. Getting involved in a dispute with a Barangay official is something that you don’t. As much as his untimely demise is not right he should’ve taken his mate’s advice and gotten out while he still could. There are a lot of great things about living here, the majority of the locals are just fine. Whatever you do though, don’t fuck with the politics.

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