By Aaron Recuenco
Why were Police investigators quick to crack the killing of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote but too slow on the case of Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili?
Director General Oscar Albayalde, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), has counted the reasons why.
First, Albayalde said that unlike in the case of Mayor Bote, there is a dearth of witnesses that could identify either the gunmen or the getaway vehicle used in the assassination of Mayor Halili.
Mayor Bote was brazenly shot dead on a busy highway in Cabanatuan City while Halili was killed allegedly by a sniper who hid on a grassy vacant lot fronting the Tanauan City Hall.
Albayalde said police investigators were able to talk to some of the witnesses when shots were fired and when the gunmen and other perpetrators were fleeing the crime scene.
But this is different in the case of Halili whose killing was apparently well-planned so as not to give the police investigators a clue as to who the gunman or even the possible lookout are.
Second, Albayalde said the Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV) installed in various strategic areas in Cabanatuan City had led the police investigators to trace the escape route of the gunmen.
“As a result, our police investigators were able to identify the vehicles used and even some of those who participated,” said Albayalde.
The footage includes the actual shooting of Mayor Bote via the CCTV installed at the local office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and another one when a vehicle entered the compound of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC).
The latter CCTV footage had established cooperation between the police and the INC leaders who provided the cops with details as to their members who are possibly involved in the killing of Mayor Bote.
Third, in the case of Mayor Bote and even that of Father Richmond Nilo, the clues that police investigators uncovered caused them to confront and corner possible suspects who later admitted and began naming names.
In the case of Mayor Halili, the only clue obtained by police investigators was a spent shell for an armalite rifle that was recovered at the snipper’s nest.
This served as the end of the road for police investigators in terms of pieces of evidence that could shed light on the identity of the gunman.
What the police are working now are the possible suspects based on the interview of Mayor Halili’s family—which helped the cops stumble on the revelation that the slain mayor had a tiff with a retired general over buy-and-sell of land in Batangas. This angle, however, is not solid.
But Albayalde said police are now pursuing a lead that could possibly shed light on the persons behind the assassination of Mayor Halili.
“There is a positive development on this case and we hope that this could also lead to the solving of the case,” said Albayalde.
“We are also confident that the best practices that our police investigators did in the investigation on the case of Mayor Bote and that of Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan would help us crack the murder case of Mayor Halili,” he added.