MANILA – Incumbent Daraga, Albay mayor Carlwyn Baldo vehemently denied being the mastermind in the murder of AKO Bicol party-list representative Rodel Batocabe and his police aide last month.
In a press conference on Thursday evening, Baldo cried foul over being named by Philippine National Police chief Director General Oscar Albayalde as the brains of the assassination.
“I assert my innocence,” Baldo said. “A trial by media is being held in front of every screen, constantly on repeat since Albayalde’s statement was released (on Thursday) morning. Neither of these is proof of my guilt.”
He added: “I did not order the deaths of anyone. I did not kill Congressman Batocabe and SPO1 (Orlando) Diaz. I am an easy target but that does not make me guilty of the crime. I am already being persecuted in the courts of public opinion.”
Albayalde tagged Baldo as the mastermind of the murder in a press conference on Thursday at Camp Crame based on the testimonies of the witnesses that approached PNP.
“Malinis ang aking konsensiya sa anumang pagkakasala. Patuloy akong nakikiramay sa pamilya nina Batocabe at Diaz, at gusto ko rin malaman [kung] sino tunay na may kagagawan ng krimen,” the mayor said.
Albayalde said Baldo has contacted a gun-for-hire group composed of former members of New People’s Army to plot the assassination of Batocabe for five million pesos.
“This is a sad, woeful day as a malicious and great power has single-handedly eclipsed justice and due process,” Baldo said. “This accusation against me is a great injustice to the late Batocabe and Diaz, their families, to the victims who were caught in the line.”
He added: “Sa ngayon po, hindi ko pa nababasa ang mga akusasyon laban sa akin pero patuloy po akong magsisilbi sa bayan ng Daraga ngayon at sa mga susunod na mga araw. Asahan po ninyo na ako ay nasa munisipyo palagi.”
The 52-year-old Batocabe was having a Christmas gift giving in his hometown in Daraga when he and Diaz were gunned down by at least six suspects on Dec. 22.
Batocabe, who was a candidate for the mayoral seat in Daraga in the 2019 midterm elections against Baldo, died due to eight gunshot wounds from .40 and .45 caliber firearms.
On Thursday afternoon, the alleged main gunner in the ambush of Batocabe and Diaz has surrendered to the authorities.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) head Chief Superintendent Amador Corpuz said in an interview on Friday that Henry Yuson – a former member of the New People’s Army – has turned himself in to the military in Albay.
“Si Henry Yuson ay kahapon ay nag-surrender sa Army unit at nasa kustodiya na ng provincial [police] director ng Albay at nung CIDG 5,” Corpuz said in an interview with GMA News TV.
Yuson’s surrender came on the same day Albayalde tagged Baldo as the mastermind in the killing of Batocabe.
Aside from Yuson, three other suspects – Emmanuel Judavar, Christopher Naval and Emmanuel Rosello – were already in police custody, Albayalde said in a separate interview.
“(Itong si Judavar) dati pong na kay mayor ‘yan. At ‘yan po ang unang nakausap ni mayor din noong August pa na pinlano na pala itong si Congressman Batocabe,” Albayalde said in an interview with DZMM.
“Kumalas sa grupo dahil nga po nagkaroon sila ng problemang personal ng mayor,” he added. “Humihingi lang siya ng maliit na halaga kay mayor at hindi siya napagbigyan doon po sumama ang kanyang loob kay mayor.”/PN