Lawmakers raise P30M reward to capture Batocabe's killers

BACOLOD, Philippines (UPDATED) – The reward money for the capture of those behind the murder of AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe continues to increase, with more colleagues pledging donations. 

The Visayan bloc in the House of Representatives started the initiative on the day Batocabe was killed, initially raising at least P3 million in reward money for whoever could provide information that would lead to the arrest of the killers.

As of Monday, December 24, the amount as reached P30 million, according to various House sources. Half of that came from the combined P15 million reward offered by AKO Bicol and the provincial government of Albay on Sunday. 

On Monday, opposition legislators composing the "Magnificent 7" said they would give P50,000 each for the reward fund. They will also give "a matching amount...to be divided equally between the Batocabe and Diaz families, which amount shall be at their disposal, including the establishment of a foundation, on the part of the Batocabe family, to strongly and effectively campaign for the elimination of the culture of violence and impunity." 

Batocabe and his police escort were shot dead following a gift-giving activity for senior citizens and persons with disabilities in Daraga, Albay, on Saturday, December 22. He was murdered on his wedding anniversary.

He is the first congressman killed under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. (READ: Malacañang vows 'no stone unturned' in Batocabe probe

Negros Occidental 3rd District Representative Alfredo Benitez, leader of the Visayan bloc, on Saturday secured the commitment of over 100 lawmakers "to put up reward money for the speedy capture of the perpetrators of this dastardly crime," said Abang Lingkod Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano.

They were "hoping that people would start cooperating with the police conducting the investigation," added Paduano, who is from Negros Occidental.

"We, in the Visayan bloc headed by Congressman Benitez, vowed to use everything in our power to see that justice is served for Representative Batocabe and his loved ones," Paduano said.

He added that Batocabe "has served the people of Bicol well and has been one of the most hardworking members of the House of Representatives."

"I see no reason why somebody would even want to hurt Batocabe except those who are willing to do anything and everything to stop Batocabe from giving the people of Bicol the kind of public service that they deserve," Paduano said. – Rappler.com