Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan was shot dead at around 3 p.m. on Trece-Indang Road in Barangay Luciano, Trece Martires, authorities said.
Senior Police Officer 1 Joel Umali, desk officer at the city police station, said Lubigan was boarding a Toyota Hilux in front of the Korea-Philippines hospital when a gunman peppered the vehicle with bullets. He died on the spot.
Investigators said a black pick-up truck traversing the opposite side, from where the vice mayor’s vehicle was, suddenly opened fire.
The vice mayor’s driver, Romulo Guillemer, 50, was also hit. He later died in the hospital.
Umali said police were still looking for motives behind the incident.
Malacañang condemned Lubigan’s killing and urged the Philippine National Police (PNP) “to conduct a fair and through investigation and spare no effort in getting to the bottom of this latest crime.”
“We must band together and put an end to the worrisome incidents of violence involving local politicians,” Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.
Lubigan was the third local government official killed in a span of a week. Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas was shot by an unknown gunman on July 2 while Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija was ambushed on July 3.
Halili and Bote were the ninth and 10th mayors killed since October 2016.
‘No kill list’
President Rodrigo Duterte’s “narco-list” is not a “kill list,” Malacañang said on Thursday, amid a spate of killings of local officials, including some whom Duterte had linked to the illegal drug trade.
Roque said the narco-list could not be considered a hit list because there was no order to kill the people on it.
“Of course it’s part of law enforcement; these are individuals whom law enforcement agencies must closely monitor. If there is sufficient evidence, they should be charged. If there’s insufficient evidence, then they should lead to case build-up,” he said.
Roque denied allegations that the government was behind the killing of Halili, saying such accusation was “unfounded” speculation considering the police were not yet done with their investigation.
“That’s a speculation. Unfounded at that, because apparently iba’t ibang aspeto ngayon ang lumalabas sa pag-imbestiga kay Halili at mayroon ding aspeto na iyon na nga (there are different aspects now emerging from Halili’s killing and there’s an aspect that), it is still borne out of the drug trade. That’s one of the angles that they are looking out although mayroon pang dalawang anggulo, pulitika at negosyo (there are two other angles — politics and business),” Roque said.
Halili, who was named in Duterte’s list of officials with alleged drug links, was shot dead on Monday during the city hall flag-raising ceremony.
He was the fourth mayor on the President’s drug list to be gunned down since 2016.
Hours after his death, Duterte slammed Halili, saying the latter’s shame campaign against crime suspects was a smokescreen for his illegal activities, including the narcotics trade.
Aside from Halili, mayors on the narco-list who were shot dead were Rolando Espinosa Sr. of Albuera, Leyte; Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City; and Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Vet the list
Amid the spate of killings of local officials, members of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) met with PNP Chief Oscar Albayalde and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to air their concerns over the government’s vetting process that led to the creation of the narco list.
Roque said the PNP would study ULAP’s proposal to allow it to participate in the vetting process of the narcolist.
League of Cities reacts
The League of Cities of the Philippines condemned the series of killings and said it was concerned over the security of local government officials.
Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, the league’s national president, said the perpetrators of these incidents should know that there would be no “culture of impunity” in the country.
Pamintuan said the league had met with Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Secretary Francis Tolentino regarding their concerns, including the validation of the names on the narco-list.
He stressed that those on the list were concerned over the possibility that their political enemies would “take advantage of the situation.”
WITH FRANCIS EARL A. CUETO, CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND REGINAN KURT IVAN ABANG
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