By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Leaders of the Senate have condemned the murder of Tanauan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili who was shot during their flag ceremony Monday morning.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the killing is yet another “alarming” crime, as he urged the public not to contradict the government’s efforts against criminals.
“Criminality in the country has always been alarming, that’s why we want government to come down hard on the criminals and not contradict efforts to do so,” Sotto said in text message when asked about the incident.
While criminals have been “bold,” the Senate chief, on the other hand, called Halili’s killers “coward,” since a sniper reportedly shot down the mayor.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, former Batangas representative, also condemned the killing of Halili. He called on authorities to chase those responsible for his death.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Tony’s loved ones. I condole with his family. I condemn his death. I urge the police to arrest the killers on the loose,” he said in a statement.
Recto, in his appeal to police, said the failure to solve such crimes would strengthen the culture of violence.
Meanwhile, the Batangas native paid tribute to his “good friend” and lauded his leadership, albeit his controversial “walk of shame.”
“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,” the senator said.
“He will be missed by his people. They have lost their mayor, and I, a good friend,” Recto expressed.
Senators Panfilo Lacson, JV Ejercito, Francis Pangilinan, Bam Aquino, and Sonny Angara have also denounced the assassination.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to determine the motive behind the killing of Halili. The mayor was hit in the chest while singing the national anthem in their regular Monday flag ceremony outside the Tanauan City Hall.