The string of killings of local executives heightened the fact that it is already political season in the runup to the midterm elections next year, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Roque issued the statement after the recent killing of Sapa-Sapa, Tawi-Tawi Vice Mayor Alrashid Mohammad Alih despite the martial law in Mindanao.
“It’s high profile, but if you look at the statistics, the number of homicide cases have actually declined. It just happened that prominent personalities were targets,” Roque said.
“It’s unfortunate there are a lot of political-related killings but what the President has promised, was the discharge of state obligation to speedily investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these killings,” he added.
Roque said statistics coming from the Philippine National Police (PNP) showed the crime index which includes homicide and murders went down by 25 percent.
The Palace official also emphasized that the series of deaths of local officials are related to the war on drugs as initial investigations showed the motives in the killings vary from personal to political. Some personalities were linked to drug trade, though.
He cited the case of the late Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, who along with six others were killed in a series of drug raids in July last year.
There’s no doubt about the involvement of Parojinog in the drug trade and his inclusion in the government’s narco list, Roque said.
Victory vs drugs
Roque admitted that while the government is far from being triumphant in its campaign against drug trafficking in the country, Malacañang remains confident that the problem will be resolved by the end of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.
“As of now, the campaign against drugs will continue,” he said.
In a related development, Malacanang claimed the Duterte administration has made significant gains to stamp out corruption and promote good governance.
“Sibak, Sibak, Sibak (Fire, fire, fire)” has been the President’s consistent battlecry with officials, including those holding Cabinet rank, not spared from the administration’s anti-corruption drive,” Roque said.
Seventeen local officials now face charges in court in connection with the Boracay mess, 186 local officials were withdrawn from police deputation and 57 complaints against local officials were investigated.