Nueva Ecija gov't offers ₱1-M reward for intel on mayor's killing

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Cabanatuan City (CNN Philippines, July 4) — The Provincial Government of Nueva Ecija on Wednesday offered a ₱1-million reward to whoever can provide information that would lead to the arrest of the suspects in the killing of Mayor Ferdinand Bote.

CCTV footage shows at least three suspects in the assassination of Bote in Cabanatuan City Tuesday afternoon.

An earlier video showed Bote was shot inside his vehicle at short range by a gunman at 4:34 p.m. At least 18 gunshots were heard outside the National Irrigation Authority office in Cabanatuan City, where Bote was gunned down.

READ: Nueva Ecija town mayor shot dead

New video shows that around 4:56 p.m., a camera in Barangay Imelda captured the image of a motorcycle with three passengers being tailed by an Asian Utility Vehicle. The motorcycle even slowed down as one of the passengers fixed something before speeding off again.

At 4:59 p.m., the motorcycle passed through Barangay MS Garcia. CCTV footage shows the motorcycle stopping as two of the passengers went down. A few minutes after, the AUV arrived.

What was not seen onthe video, according to a witness who refused to face our camera for security reasons, is when the two passengers of the motorcycle transferred to the AUV.

At 5:00 p.m., another camera in Barangay MS Garcia captured the speeding motorcycle with only one passenger, a few seconds after the AUV passed by.

The police said Bote's driver was unharmed and they were able to get his statement about the incident. They did not disclose his testimony.

Three leads

The slay may be related to local politics, quarry business, and government projects related to the mayor's construction business, police said.

"Yung isyu ng pulitika of course hindi matanggal yun dahil incumbent mayor siya (The issue of politics cannot be ruled out since he is an incumbent mayor)," said Chief Supt. Amador Corpus, director of Police Regional Office 3.

"There were small issues sa contest ng chairmanship yung mga ABC (Association of Barangay Captains) so we are looking into that."

He said the police's Special Investigation Task Group is now documenting the projects and contracts the Bote family had entered into.

Bote is not linked to illegal drugs, Corpus said.

He added there are no indications that Bote had been receiving threats, and that it was not unusual for the mayor to leave his security aides behind during appointments.

"Sagot naman ng dalawang pulis na assigned sa kanya, most of the time pag lumalabas si mayor, hindi niya sinasama ang security detail niya so wala talagang dumadating na death threat kay mayor," he said.

[Translation: Two police officers guarding him said he does not usually bring with him security so he really did not receive any death threat.]

Gov't urged to probe killings

Bote's death happened a day after an assassin's bullet felled Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City in Batangas province, south of Manila, during the city's flag-raising rites on Monday.

Several government officials, including lawmakers and Vice President Leni Robredo, have called on the Duterte administration to give swift justice to the slain mayors.

The Philippine National Police has created two special investigation task forces to look into the killings of Mayors Halili and Bote. The Justice Department has also ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to look into these cases.