House gives rest of P13-M reward in Batocabe case to PNP

MANILA The House of Representatives on Wednesday turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) PHP8 million, comprising the balance of the PHP13 million committed by the institution to the reward money raised for information on the killers of Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe.

The amount was turned over to PNP Chief, Director General Oscar Albayalde, by Leyte Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez and Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Benitez, chair and vice chair of the House Committee on Accounts, respectively. It was witnessed by House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Ako Bicol Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.

Benitez said 197 congressmen contributed to raise the PHP13 million share of the House in the PHP50-million bounty for Batocabe's killers.

The House already turned over PHP5 million earlier last week.

Meanwhile, the remaining PHP37 million is divided as follows: Ako Bicol Party-list, PHP15 million; provincial government of Albay, PHP2 million; while President Rodrigo Duterte added PHP20 million.

Meanwhile, Garbin reiterated Ako Bicol's stand that the amount committed by the party would be given in tranches: during the determination of probable cause, during the trial proper, and the final tranche during the conviction.

We want a successful prosecution of the murder case and we want conviction, he said.

Garbin said they will release the amount in tranches because they want all witnesses to participate not only during the determination of probable cause, but also during the trial proper.

We want them to take the witness stand at sabihin ang nalalaman nila na pawang katotohanan lamang (and tell truthfully all that they know) that will lead to the perpetrators and to the mastermind, he said.

The stand of Ako Bicol is that there will be a release in the determination of probable cause, there will be a release when they take the witness stand, and the final release will be during the conviction, Garbin said.

Batocabe and his police escort were gunned down during a gift-giving activity in his hometown in Daraga, Albay last December 22.

The PNP has tagged Daraga Mayor Carlwyn Baldo as the alleged mastermind behind the killings.

Batocabe was planning to challenge Baldo for the Daraga mayoralty in the mid-term elections in May.

The PNP currently has in its custody six prime suspects and a key witness.

On Tuesday, Baldo was arrested and the PNP is set to file illegal possession of firearms complaints against him after they found unlicensed guns and ammunition in his residence. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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