Calabarzon police chief: Intelligence reports show Tanauan mayor allegedly involved in illegal drug trade

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Tanauan Mayor Antonio Halili

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 2) — The chief of police of Region IV-A said the mayor of Tanauan, Batangas was involved in the illegal drug trade and it could be the reason behind the mayor's slay.

Mayor Antonio Halili, known for his anti-crime crusade, was shot dead on Monday as he presided over the flag ceremony on the grounds of the city hall, police said.

Halili was hit in the chest just as city hall employees were singing the national anthem. A doctor at the CP Reyes Hospital pronounced him dead on arrival at 8:45 a.m., Philippine National Police Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said.

Halili had made headlines for his controversial "Walk of Shame" campaign against illegal drugs where he asked drug suspects to parade around the city wearing placards saying, "Ako'y pusher. Wag tularan."

Albayalde said they are looking at this campaign as another motive for the mayor's killing.

"Marami rin sigurong napahiya, nasaktan doon sa ginagawa niyang 'Walk of Shame,'" Albayalde said on Monday.

[Translation: There might be a lot of people who were embarassed and hurt by his "Walk of Shame."]

Regional Chief Superintendent Edward Carranza said the bullet hit Halili's cellphone first before going through the right side of his chest.

"Isang bala lang po ang pumasok sa katawan... Wala pang autospy report anong bala ang tumama," Carranza said.

[Translation: Only one bullet entered the body... There is no autopsy report yet on what bullet hit him.]

In a separate interview on CNN Philippines News Night Monday, Carranza said  Halili was considered a "high-value target based on the NAPOLCOM Resolution No. 2017-570, wherein stated in this resolution was the withdrawal of the power and operational supervision of the Mayor of Tanauan over the Philippine National Police, but on the basis that the mayor was reportedly engaged in illegal drug trade together with four other mayors in Regions IV-A."

 

Carranza's revelation comes in stark contrast to Halili's reputation as an ally to the administration's war on drugs.

According to Carranza, Halili would make drug suspects do a "Walk of Shame" around the streets of Tanauan in broad daylight.

"We have an intelligence report that the mayor was involved in drugs. And the mayor came to know of this report when the resolution was implemented," said Carranza.

The Calabarzon police chief also revealed that based on information they had, drugs in Tanauan were controlled by Halili.

Carranza confirmed they were looking at all angles into Halili's death, including the mayor's alleged involvement in illegal drugs.

Among the other angles mentioned by Carranza were the possible involvement of those who were made to do the "walk of shame," political rivalry, and a personal grudge.

However, Carranza said they have not identified a suspect as of posting time.

Professional hit?

Carranza said he considered the person who shot Mayor Halili to be "very proficient" as the shot was made from a distance of 160 meters.

He added they were looking into the possibility the assailant was a hired killer.

"As of now, we're not going to leave any angles untouched," he said,

Carranza also said the shooter left the place where he hid "totally clean."

Authorities will also be looking into police blotters to see if Halili knew who his killers were, as he previously said he was receiving death threats.

Task force to look into Halili's killing

A special investigation task group was formed to look into the killing amid reports Halili was shot by a sniper from an elevated area more than 100 meters away from him.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque condemned the killing and called the mayor as an ally of President Rodigo Duterte.

He vowed justice will be served.

Several senators expressed alarm for Halili's killing, calling for a thorough investigation into the incident.

A few minutes before the flag-raising rites, evangelical church pastors prayed over Halili.

CNN Philippines' David Santos, Pia Garcia, and Lara Tan contributed to this report.