Police reported the Mayor of Sto Niño, South Cotabato, who was also included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s narco list, was shot dead on Friday morning.
According to the initial information from the Police Regional Office XII, the victim was identified as Mayor Pablo Matinong.
In a phone interview, Lieutenant Renjun Bagaman, spokesperson of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office, said that Matinong, 55, was on Duterte’s narco-politician list.
Authorities said Matinong was visiting an infrastructure project in Purok Libertad in Barangay Poblacion when he was gunned down by still unidentified suspects at 7:55 am.
Police said the suspects were riding a motorcycle.
He was rushed to Dr. Luntao Clinic and Hospital in Sto Niño but was declared dead on arrival by the attending physician. He sustained two gunshot wounds.
A stray bullet also injured a 42-year-old bystander during the incident was also treated in the hospital.
South Cotabato mayor included in Duterte’s narco list shot dead
Meanwhile, Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said a hot pursuit operation was launched against the suspects.
Citing a report from the Sto. Nino police, Siason, added that investigators are initially looking at personal grudge and work- or business-related angles as the possible motives for the shooting.
“Possible motive of incident is personal grudge,” town police said in their initial report.
Police recovered seven shells believed to be from a .45 caliber pistol from the crime scene, Siason said.
“I am saddened by this attack as the mayor is a good friend,” Siason said in a radio interview.
President Duterte, in March 2019, released the names of 44 people he alleged were “politicians connected with narco-politics in their respective areas” for “public interest.
In the same month, Sto. Niño, South Cotabato Mayor Matinong vehemently denied he was involved in any illegal drug activities. He added he was ready to face charges to prove his innocence.
The Mayor also said he strongly supported President Duterte’s war od drugs and claimed politics was behind his inclusion in the narco list.
Duterte said that he released the list as the people had the “right to choose leaders who are competent, able, honest, and who are not criminals.”