Manila: Lawmakers have pitched in to put up a reward for information that would lead to the capture of killers of Congressman Rodel Batocabe. House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, during her visit to the wake for the slain lawmaker in Daraga, Albay on Sunday, said members of the House of Representatives have contributed to put up a bounty for killers of the 52-year-old Batocabe.

“Members of the House had pitched in to expedite efforts to get the killers of Congressman Batocabe,” Arroyo said.

Earlier, the former president described Batocabe as a friend and an ally,

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“Nothing can justify his murder and that of his police aide,” she said.

The AKO Bicol partylist representative and his security aide, Senior Police Officer 1 Orlando Diaz were shot and killed on Saturday afternoon in an ambush carried out after the lawmaker handed out Christmas presents to the elderly in the village of Burgos.

The Bombo Radyo Bicol reported that the total prize put up for the capture of Batocabe’s killers could reach P30 million (Dh2.07 million).

The radio report quoted Rep Alfredo Benitez of the 3rd District of Negros Occidental as saying that more than 100 House lawmakers have committed considerable sums to the reward money.

The killing of Batocabe takes place five months before the Philippines holds its mid-terms elections.

Batocabe who was already a three-term partylist Congressman under AKO Bicol, was said to be gunning for the mayor’s post in Daraga.

Philippine National Police Director General Chief Oscar Albayalde said a special investigation task group is being formed to get killers.

“I have directed the creation of a Special Investigation Task Group to mobilise all available resources and to orchestrate all aspects of investigation to ensure that justice is served as soon as possible to both the victims and their families,” according to a statement issued by Albayalde.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. had expressed outrage over Batocabe’s assassination, stressing that the “culture of violence that stalks our land” must be stopped.

“I share the outrage, the pain and the shock of my fellow Bicolanos over the death of my friend and colleague, Rodel Batocabe. He was a man of peace and a visionary for progress. The laws he had authored and the programmes he had initiated will continue to make a difference in the lives of the people he had selflessly served long after he is gone. That he and his police aide were cowardly assassinated while spreading cheer in this season of forgiveness betrays the evil nature of the perpetrators,” Andaya said.

Authorities said the killing of Batocabe is “political” in nature and that several suspects are being eyed in the assassination.

While political killings are by no means ordinary in the Philippines, assassinations usually take place and increase in frequency weeks ahead of the actual elections.