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DAVAO ORIENTAL, Philippines – Police asserted that Davao has remained a relatively peaceful city despite the November 22 fatal gun attack on a former town mayor from Davao Oriental, and several others before him.
The victim, Giselo Castillones, an ex-mayor of Cateel town in Davao Oriental, was shot and killed by a still unidentified gunman inside his car at Kilometer 5, Buhangin, Davao City.
One of Castillones’ two companions was also wounded in the attack carried out after the former mayor and his group had their breakfast and were about to leave an establishment’s parking lot.
“The murder was an isolated incident. While the victim was not a resident of Davao City, we will do everything to solve this crime and bring justice to the victim’s family,” Captain Hazel Tuazon, the spokesperson of the Davao City Police Office, said on Friday, November 24.
A primary business and investment hub in Mindanao, the Davao City government has adopted the slogan “Life is Here!” as the city’s official tourism slogan.
Davao stands as the lone highly urbanized city among the six in the Davao Region. It is home to former president Rodrigo Duterte, who, throughout his mayoral tenure, boasted of the city’s track record of low crime rates. This reputation factored in Duterte’s triumphant 2016 presidential campaign, where he accentuated his iron-fist crime control method.
In June, the Davao police said it was seeing a downtrend in the number of crimes, such as murder and homicide, in the city based on data covering the months of January to May compared to the same period in 2022.
The Davao police said the crime rate in the city significantly dropped. It logged 213 cases of crimes in the city from January to September, an improvement compared to the 370 cases during the same period last year.
Tuazon said the reduction was due to the “continuous vigilance of the public who promptly provide information to authorities.”
Series of murders
Davao, however, saw a string of heinous crimes committed in the city in recent months, before the murder of Castillones.
Early this year, police linked and filed a complaint against former Presidential Security Group (PSG) chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante III and six of his subordinates in connection with the murder of model and businesswoman Yvonette Chua-Plaza near her home in Davao City just days before the last New Year’s Eve. The administrative aspect of the case has been sent to the General Court Martial.
In September, a middle-aged woman was discovered dead in her house in Talomo, Bago Gallera, Davao City, in what appeared to be a case of robbery with homicide.
In late July, a power struggle for leadership within a cult-like group in Davao City escalated as a tribal warrior and a former militiaman unleashed a brutal assault on policemen dispatched to a village to mediate the conflict. The officers suffered a savage attack, being hacked, stabbed, and shot at Purok 4, Barangay Lacson in Calinan District.
A 28-year-old architect was also found murdered in Barangay Dacudao, Calinan District, in May. Police said the victim was raped.
Police seek help
Meanwhile, the Davao City police appealed to the public for any useful information which investigators could use to solve the Castillones murder case.
“This will aid in bringing them to justice and providing closure to the grieving family,” read part of a statement released by the DCPO.
Davao police director Colonel Alberto Lupaz has created the Special Investigation Task Group Castillones to speed up the investigation into the November 22 broad daylight shooting death.
The local police added, “Investigators are diligently conducting a thorough examination, reviewing CCTV footage from nearby areas, and employing all available means to resolve the case.” – Rappler.com