Another local government official in the Philippines has been killed.
The vice mayor of Sapa-Sapa, a town in Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao, was shot dead by unknown assailants yesterday afternoon.
The Philippine Star reported that vice mayor Al-Rashid Mohammad Ali was accompanied by his security escort when he was traversing Governor Alvarez Street in his Toyota Innova.
When the vehicle slowed down due to traffic, the assailant approached Ali’s vehicle and shot the politician several times, according to Rappler. Ali was reportedly sitting in the front passenger seat.
Ali died after sustaining gunshot wounds to the chest, reported ABS-CBN News. He was brought to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival. It’s unclear if any member of his security escort was harmed as well.
The vice mayor’s killing is just the latest in a string of murders of local politicians in the Philippines.
Earlier this month, Tanuan, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili was shot dead while attending the town hall’s flag-raising ceremony. Halili was once tagged in an intelligence report for having links to the illegal narcotics trade, which he denied.
His killing was followed by General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote, who was shot at close range when his vehicle was about to leave a government agency’s office.
Bote’s murder was followed by the killing of Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan of Trece Martires, Cavite.
According to ABS-CBN News, there have been 16 mayors and vice mayors killed since President Rodrigo Duterte started his anti-drug campaign in 2016.
Wilnor Papa, the spokesperson for Amnesty International, said that while political violence is nothing new in the country, “Duterte has aggravated it through his pronouncements.”
He also added that the Duterte administration “is empowering vigilante killings.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing on Monday that there was “no pattern” behind the killings of local executives, noting that it could just be “political season in the Philippines.”