180 House members add to Batocabe case bounty

By Ben Rosario

At least 180 House members have contributed an average of P40,000 each to the bounty for the arrest of the killers of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and his security escort.

Members of Congress and Senate joins together for a joint special session on the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao at the House of Representatives on Saturday. (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN) (Jansen Romero / MANILA BULLETIN)

Investigators have started to look into the reported narcotics background of persons of interest identified as the possible mastermind behind the killing of Batocabe and his bodyguard, SPO1 Orlando Diaz.

Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, with the help of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, initiated the fund drive among House members, eyeing at least P17 million as the chamber’s contribution to the informant’s reward that is expected to hit P50 million.

President Duterte pledged P20 million, Ako Bicol Party-list, P15 million and the Albay provincial government added P2 million.

“Many of our colleagues issued P50,000 to P100,000 checks, while others sent the minimum request of P30,000 each,” revealed Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Batocabe’s party-list colleague.

Garbin and Benitez said they are confident the crime will be solved soon, saying that witnesses are expected to come out.

Garbin has asked the police to disarm bodyguards of politicians in Daraga and disband the private army of one local political kingpin.

According to him, this move will give informants the confidence in their security and eventually be convinced to help solve the killings.

Batocabe’s remains were laid to rest Monday while his House colleagues are preparing a memorial service in his honor at the House plenary hall when Congress resumes January 14.

The well-loved lawmaker and Diaz were gunned down after attending a gift-giving event for the elderly and PWD residents in Daraga, Albay.

Garbin and the Batocabe family readily agreed with initial result of the investigation that pointed to politics as behind the assassination.

Batocabe, convenor and president of the Party-list Coalition in the House, was a leading candidate for the 2019 mayoralty race in Daraga.

Also an anti-drug crusader, Batocabe may have been killed by political foes who are involved in Albay narcotics trade, it was gathered from sources.