By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte said Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili may have been killed due to his involvement in the illegal drug trade.
Duterte, in his speech during the 58th founding anniversary of Southern Leyte, said Halili’s shame campaign against illegal drugs may have also been just a front.
“Earlier Mayor Antonio Halili of Batangas… they made it appear that the problem in illegal drugs is serious, they pretended to parade the drug addicts. But it turned out it was him,” Duterte said in Bisaya Monday evening.
“He was killed earlier. I do not know who killed him. I already told everyone to not involve yourselves in illegal drugs,” he added.
But Duterte, in the same speech, immediately clarified that he only suspects that Halili was actually killed due to his alleged involvement in the trade.
Halili, dubbed as the “Duterte of Batangas,” was known for his controversial “walk of shame” campaign against illegal drugs.
Malacañang earlier condemned Halili’s death and assured that justice will be served for the slain mayor. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the people behind the killing will be investigated, tried, and punished.
Roque also recalled Halili as an ally of President Duterte in fighting illegal drugs and said the Mayor is a big loss not only to his people but for the country as well.
The Palace official earlier refused to comment on Halili’s inclusion in Duterte’s list of narco-politicians. He also said it was too early to tell whether Halili was killed because of it.
On October 30, 2017, the National Police Commission (Napolcom) stripped Halili and four other Southern Tagalog mayors off their police powers due to their alleged involvement in the illegal drug trade.