KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 10 July) — A mayor in South Cotabato on the drug list of President Rodrigo Duterte was shot dead at around 8 a.m. Friday, police said.
Sto. Niño Mayor Pablo Matinong Jr., was inspecting a project at the town’s Purok Libertad in Barangay Poblacion when unidentified suspects riding pillion on a motorcycle shot him, said Lieutenant Renjun Bagaman, spokesperson of the South Cotabato Provincial Police Office.
The mayor suffered headshots, Bagaman said, citing initial reports.
In a phone interview, Bagaman said that Matinong, 55, was on Duterte’s narco-politician list.
However, the police officer declined to link the shooting as drug-related.
As a politician, he could have incurred enemies, Bagaman added.
Bagaman said investigators are still determining the possible motives for the attack.
For his part, Col. Jemuel Siason, South Cotabato police director, said a hot pursuit operation was launched against the suspects.
Citing a report from the Sto. Nino police, Siason said that probers are initially eyeing personal grudge and work- or business-related angles as the possible motives for the attack.
Siason said they have several witnesses who could help in the investigation.
Seven spent shells believed to be from a .45 caliber pistol were recovered from the crime scene, the official said.
“I am saddened by this attack as the mayor is a good friend,” Siason said in a radio interview.
For the second time in March 2019, Matinong vehemently denied that he was involved in illegal drugs, saying he was ready to face charges to clear his name.
Matinong said he strongly supported Duterte’s all-out war against illegal drugs.
He claimed that politics was behind his inclusion in the narco-politician list.
In Sto. Niño town, Barangay Ambalgan is notorious in Region 12 as a haven of drug dealers for a long time.