A Philippine mayor who paraded suspected drug dealers through the streets of his city, but also alleged to have drug ties himself, was shot dead while attending a weekly flag-raising ceremony.
Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan city in Batangas province south of Manila was shot in the chest by a still unknown-gunman on Monday and died on the way to a hospital.
The bullet hit a mobile phone in Halili’s coat pocket then pierced his chest, police told AP news agency.
“We are shocked, we are saddened,” Vice Mayor Jhoanna Villamor, who was standing beside Halili, told radio station DZBB after the shooting.
Philippine police chief Oscar Albayalde said people in the crowd did not see anybody approach the mayor.
“They just heard a gunshot so the assumption or allegation was it could have been a sniper shot,” Albayalde said in a news conference, adding that an investigation was under way.
Police said they were scouring a nearby elevated grassy area, where the gunman may have fired the shot.
‘Walk of shame’
Halili became controversial two years ago when he ordered drug suspects to be paraded in public in his city, in a campaign that was dubbed “walk of shame”.
The suspects were forced to wear cardboard signs that read “I’m a pusher, don’t emulate me” in a campaign that alarmed human rights officials.
Police officials, however, also linked Halili to illegal drugs, an allegation he strongly denied. He said at the time that he would resign and would be willing to be publicly paraded as a drug suspect if police could come up with evidence to support the allegation.
Halili was stripped of his supervisory powers over local police in October 2017 due to a proliferation of illegal drugs in his city.
In an interview with Reuters news agency in August 2016 – the second month of the crackdown – he said he backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign but believed drug kingpins should be the main targets, otherwise thousands of people would be killed.
He expressed concern over the way police conducted the war on drugs and the reliability of their intelligence, and that he might be accused of colluding with narcotics gangs.
“No one is safe – mayors, governors, congressmen – just a false intelligence report by the police can end up with any of them being destroyed,” he said in the interview.
The Nigerian Lesson
Nigeria , unfortunately is also one country where security operatives parade suspects with boards on their chests before the press proclainipr them guilty of crimes they have not being convicted of, thereby playing both judge and jury.
Mayor Antonio Halili’s assassination has not be link by evidence to be related to his anti-drug campaigns or his unlawful shaming of drug suspects but it is logically unconvincing to think otherwise.
Perhaps, the thin line between justice and vengeance has been obliterated in a fit of self-glorifying administration of justice.
Article Source: Partly Al-Jazeera