In Brief

Second Philippine mayor gunned down in 24 hours

Opposition blames ‘culture of violence’ created by President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs

The mayors of two cities in the Philippines have been shot dead in as many days, prompting one opposition senator to call the country the “murder capital of Asia”.

Ferdinand Bote of the town of General Tinio was gunned down by a motorcycle-riding assassin on Tuesday afternoon. According to the police report he was struck several times in broad daylight while riding in his car in the nearby city of Cabanatuan.

The killing came 24 hours after Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was hit in the chest by a single sniper’s bullet while singing the national anthem during a flag-raising ceremony.

Philippines News Agency reported that Halili had been placed on a “narco list” of people associated with the drugs trade by the National Police Commission, even though CNN described him as “a controversial ally of President Rodrigo Duterte who gained notoriety for his policy of parading people arrested for drug offenses”.

The Roman Catholic church has also raised alarm over the killings of three priests in recent months, including one who had called for greater gun controls. He was shot at an altar while preparing to celebrate Mass.

Opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV blamed the killings on a “culture of violence” under Duterte, who he has criticised for a brutal anti-drug crackdown that has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead in the last two years.

The outspoken former mayor of Davao, nicknamed the ‘Trump of East’, has openly condoned extrajudicial killings. Fox News reports that at least three mayors accused by Duterte’s administration of involvement in the drug trade had been killed in raids by or clashes with the police.

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