Malacañang on Monday condemned the killing of Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, a man described by the Palace as a staunch ally of the government's war on drugs despite his reported links to the narcotics trade.
"Kinokondena po natin itong pagpatay kay Mayor Halili. Kakilala po natin itong si Mayor Halili. Ito po'y isang napakatibay na kasangga ng Presidente sa gyera laban sa droga. Siya po'y napakahusay na alkalde. Sa kanyang pamumuno po naging isa sa pinakamaunlad na bayan ang Tanauan," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
Roque, however, would not comment on Halili's supposed involvement in the illegal drug trade, saying the government's priority is to give justice to the slain mayor's family and his constituents.
"Sa ngayon po siguro makikiramay muna kami sa pamilya ng napaslang na Mayor Halili. Saka na po natin pag-usapan 'yan. May mga panahon po dapat pag-usapan 'yan. Ngayon po'y panahon ng pagdadalamhati at pagbibigay ng pakikiramay," the Palace spokesman said.
Roque later said at a press briefing in Maasin City that it was too early to make a conclusion on Halili's death as the police investigation is still ongoing.
"Di ko alam ano relasyon nitong drug list sa pagpatay kay Mayor Halili pero you can argue it both ways po dahil sa iba talagang kinikilala siyang bilang haligi ng kampanya laban sa pinagbabawal na droga at dahilan bakit nagrereklamo ngayon ang human rights groups sa ginagawa niyang shame campaign," Roque said.
'Walks of shame'
Halili became controversial for parading alleged drug suspects in infamous "walks of shame" which courted an investigation by the Commission on Human Rights.
He recently rebranded the "walk of shame" to "walk of change" to encourage rehabilitated drug dependents.
In spite of his harsh stance on drugs, Halili was among the local officials stripped of police power for alleged links to illegal drugs.
Halili had denied the allegation. —KBK/RSJ, GMA News