ALBAY, Philippines (UPDATED) – AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe was laid to rest at a public cemetery in Daraga, Albay on Monday, December 31.
Thousands of Batocabe’s supporters wearing t-shirts that read “Justice for Batocabe” attended Monday’s Mass officiated by Bishop Joel Baylon. The big crowd joined the funeral procession despite heavy rainfall.
Batocabe and his police escort SPO1 Orlando Diaz were shot dead on December 22 while in a gift-giving event in Daraga. Batocabe was the first congressman to be killed under the Duterte administration.
His wife, Gertie Batocabe, said she is broken following the untimely death of her husband. “We will pick up the pieces,” she said after her husband’s funeral.
The lawmaker’s eldest son and lawyer Justin Batocabe also said they will never stop until the mastermind is caught. “They killed the man well-loved by the people. They killed the man whose ultimate dream is to serve the people of Daraga,” the younger Batocabe said.
Batocabe’s family and colleagues believe local politics may have been the motive behind the slay. Batocabe was running for Daraga mayor in the 2019 elections.
In his homily during Mass, Bishop Baylon said Batocabe’s life was cut short by unscrupulous men while he was providing Christmas cheer to disabled people and senior citizens.
“We are afraid and cry to heaven for justice for the death of our beloved Rodel. His fellow lawmakers remembered him as a good and hardworking legislator. All of a sudden, he is gone. His life was cut and unable to fulfill his dream to serve. He offered his life to serve the people. He might have had a successful political career but his dream is gone,” Baylon said.
For his part, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito said that Batocabe worked diligently as a lawmaker. “Congressman Rodel is one of my colleagues in the 15th Congress. We [worked] together for 3 years, he studied and worked hard as lawmaker. I’m witness to his conscientious and hard-working legislation. It’s very sad that his life ended this way… He is a big loss,” Ejercito said.
Ejercito joined calls to resolve Batocabe’s slay and those of other public servants and civilians killed by unidentified persons.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier added P20 million to the bounty for Batocabe’s killers, bringing the total reward money to P50 million.