Witnesses recall the morning Mayor Halili was killed

Rappler.com
Tanauan City Hall employees say they thought the popping sound was from a firecracker, then Mayor Antonio Halilli staggered a few steps and fell to the ground

SILENT WITNESS. An eerie silence in front of the Tanauan City Hall on the first night after the murder of Mayor Antonio Halili. Photo by Eloisa Lopez/Rappler

BATANGAS CITY, Philippines – It was like any ordinary Monday morning in Tanauan City Hall. Mayor Antonio “Tony” Halili  arrived and approached Vice Mayor Jhoanna Villamor to greet her, then shook hands with the councilors. 

He faced the city hall employees then smiled at them. 

Immediately after this, the flag ceremony started. The city officers and employees placed their right hands on their chests, faced the Philippine flag, and sang the National Anthem.

“Before the National Anthem ended, may narinig kaming gunshot (we heard the sound of gunshot) ,” new Tanauan City Mayor Jhoanna Villamor said.

Narinig ko si Mayor, nakita ko si Mayor, hawak na niya ‘yong kanyang chest. Doon ko nakita na may gunshot wound na siya,” she added.”

(I heard Mayor. I saw him holding his chest. That’s when I saw he had a gunshot wound.)

Villamor said that it was not until she saw the Mayor clutching his chest that she realized that the sound she heard was from a gun fired. She said it was not a startling sound, and it was just one pop.

Marilou Blaza, a city hall employee, said she also thought the sound was just from a firecracker. “Nasa likod kasi kami, hindi namin nakikita. Nagulat nalang kami nagtakbuhan na mga tao.”

(We were at the back.  We could not see anything. We were startled when the people started running.)

 Villamor added that the Mayor still seemed conscious, but he was already unable to speak.

“When I saw him, narinig ko lang, sabi niya lang ‘ah.’ Yung mga tao nag-start na mag-panic, nag-start na tumakbo, and that was the only time that I ran kasi nag-panic na rin ako.”

(I just heard him gasp ‘ah.’ Then the people started to panic and began scampering. That was the only time I ran because I also started to panic.) 

Blaza said most employees ran inside the city hall for protection as more gunshots followed when the security aides started shooting.

(READ: LOOK: ‘Sniper hole’ of Tanauan Mayor Halili’s killer)

The Mayor was then rushed to the hospital using the vehicle of a barangay captain in Tanauan.

Tanauan City public information officer Gerald Laresma told Rappler that although an ambulance was available, it was not the most accessible as vehicles are often cleared from the area of the incident to give space for the flag ceremony. 

Meanwhile, based on the police spot report of Tanauan City Police Station, their office received information about the shooting of Halili  at around 8:10 am on Monday, July 2, after a telephone call from a “concerned citizen” was received by City Tactical Operations Center.

“Upon receipt of such information, duty investigators immediately proceeded to the aforesaid place to investigate,” the report noted.

The report also narrated that at about 8 am, Mayor Halili was leading the traditional Monday flag-raising ceremony at the New City Hall together with Sanguniang Panlunsod and local government employees.

It was here that Halili was shot “hitting on his left chest.”

Shortly after, the victim was rushed to C.P. Reyes Medical Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival by attending physician Dr Maria Cristina Marribay.

“Further investigation revealed that the gunman positioned on [an] elevated grassy portion for camouflaging and it was adjacent to New City Hall, approximately 150 meters away from the victim,” the report added. – Rappler.com