Congressman gunned down during Christmas gift giving event

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Rodel M Batocabe pictured at a gift-giving event yesterday, and, right, the scene of the shooting.

A congressman has been shot dead, in an attack the police suspect could be politically motivated ahead of next year’s elections.

Rodel M Batocabe, aged 52, an ally of President Duterte, was shot eight times during a gift-giving ceremony for senior citizens in the Albay Province today (Saturday, December 22).

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Senior Inspector Mayvell Gonzales of the local police said a police escort was also killed in the attack.

Batocabe becomes the first member of the 297-seat House of Representatives to be killed in recent years.

Insp. Gonzales, who said a motive for the killing had yet to be established. The lawmaker was hit in the head, chest and abdomen, and pronounced dead on arrival at a hospital.

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Batocabe, who was not standing again for Congress, was campaigning to be mayor of the town of Daraga in May’s elections. Others running for the same position are incumbent Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo and Vice Mayor Victor Perete.

“What was supposed to be a peaceful gift-giving celebration for senior citizens and persons with disability have turned out to a violent event.  Christmas should not be tainted by blood and I will not condone such violent and terroristic acts in this town,” Mayor Baldo said in a text message.

Tributes to congressman

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo strongly condemned the killing of the congressman and called for a speedy investigation of the case.

“Nothing can justify his murder and that of his police aide. I call on our law enforcement agencies to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation to bring all those behind this dastardly act to justice,” she said.

“I offer my deepest condolences to his family and constituents whom he had served with much commitment and compassion,” she added.

Violence ahead of these elections have already claimed several lives. Six days ago, gunmen in the northern Philippines killed Benjamin Okulto, 47, a candidate for vice mayor in northern Pangasinan Province.

And last month, gunmen ambushed a convoy in the northern province of La Union, killing two people, including a vice mayor. Eight others, including the vice mayor’s daughter, who is the incumbent mayor, were wounded.

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