By Ben Rosario
Believing that the evidence against the alleged perpetrators of the murder of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe is airtight, the House of Representatives delivered on Wednesday its P13 million share of the P50-million cash reward for the informants.
Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, who led the fund-raising drive for the bounty, said 197 congressmen contributed a minimum P30,000 each to help raise the Lower House share in the bounty.
Together with Reps. Yedda Marie Romualdez (Lakas-CMD, Leyte) and Alfredo Garbin (Ako Bicol Partylist), Benitez turned over P8 million to Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to complete the P13-million payment.
The House cashier deducted P30,000 each from the contributing congressmen to raise the P5 million earlier turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Benitez explained that the Ako Bicol Partylist had pledged P15 million while the provincial government of Albay vowed P2 million to add to the P13 million coming from the Lower House, completing the P30 million share of the three groups.
President Duterte had earlier turned over his P20-million share of the bounty.
On Wednesday, Duterte taunted congressmen for withholding their share of the bounty.
Benitez said the Lower House collection was completed only recently even as he admitted that there had been discussions among congressmen on the correct timing in turning over the money.
According to Benitez, Albay provincial officials told the Lower House that their P2-million reward counterpart will only be released as soon as Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo, the alleged mastermind, and his cohorts are convicted in court.
“I believe the evidence against the arrested perpetrators, including the alleged mastermind is airtight and will lead to conviction. It is only right to give the informant his reward,” said Benitez.
Batocabe was vying for the mayorship of Daraga, Albay, when he was slain by armed men in Barangay Burgos around 3 p.m. of December 22 while attending a gift-giving program for elderlies and persons with disabilities.
Also killed was the solon’s security escort, SPO1 Orlando Diaz. At least seven bystanders were wounded.
Informant Emmanuel Jaduvar is expected to receive bulk of the reward, it was gathered.
It was Judavar who gave the identities of the participants in the killing, including Baldo.
All six participants in the slay job are now in police custody. On the other hand, Baldo was arrested Tuesday following a police raid at his residence that yielded unlicensed firearms and ammunition.