University president shot dead, Cagayan de Oro mayor offers P1-M bounty for killers

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Cagayan de Oro City (CNN Philippines, December 4) — A university president who was among key figures of a landmark law mandating free college tuition in state universities, was shot dead over the weekend, officials said.

Two unidentified men shot University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines (USTP) President Ricardo Rotoras outside his residence at 1 a.m. Saturday, police said. Rotoras sustained eight gunshot wounds from a caliber .45 pistol, they added.

Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno offered a P1 million reward for anyone who can identify the killers of the 48-year-old university president.

"This is for anyone who could bring any information regarding the perpetrators, and sa mastermind. Most likely, this crime has its mastermind, because the operation was professionally done," Moreno said.

Senate President Koko Pimentel urged law enforcement agencies to "work double time" in solving what he called a "dastardly act."

"I am alarmed and outraged by this latest attack on our law-abiding and dedicated public servants," Pimentel said Sunday. "I urge the police to work double time to arrest the killers and unmask the mastermind," said the senator, who hails from Cagayan de Oro City.

A Special Investigation Task Force has been formed to speed up investigation into Rotoras's killing. The police have also asked the National Bureau of Investigation for assistance.

Rotoras, as president of the Philippine Association of State Universities and Colleges (PASUC), was among key figures in the academe who helped in the passage of the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act in August.

His death was mourned by lawmakers.

"Your legacy will live on in the millions of deserving but underprivileged young Filipinos who will now have the opportunity to earn a college degree because of your work. Rest in peace, Professor," said Senator Win Gatchalian said in a statement. He called Rotoras a "true champion of education reform."

Senators Bam Aquino and Kiko Pangilinan acknowledged that "His untimely death is a great loss to the country's push for quality education for every Filipino."

Rotoras headed the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines since 2006 and served as the president of PASUC for four consecutive terms.

Students, teachers, and staff wore black on Monday to pay tribute to the slain university president.