A Philippine city mayor who paraded drug suspects before being later accused of involvement in the illegal trade himself, was shot dead on Monday during a flag ceremony, police said.
Mayor Antonio Halili of the city of Tanauan in Batangas province, 67 kilometres south of Manila, was shot in the chest by a suspected sniper and declared dead on arrival in hospital, police said.
The flag ceremony outside city hall was almost over when the gunshot was heard, triggering screams and panic among employees, video posted on social media showed.
Halili made headlines in 2016 when he made drug suspects walk around the streets of Tanauan with placards saying, ‘I'm a durg pusher. Don't be like me.’ The ‘walk of shame’ was a show of support for President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs, which has been criticised for the mounting death toll and alleged abuses.
National Director General Oscar Albayalde, the country's police chief, said investigators were looking into the possibility that Halili's murder was connected to his ‘walk of shame’ campaign.
‘He hurt and shamed a lot of people with the campaign,’ he said.
But Halili had also been accused of having links to the illegal drug trade and was stripped of powers over police assigned in the city in October.
He was the fourth mayor accused of being involved in illegal drugs to be killed in the Philippines since Duterte became president in 2016.
According to official statistics, more than 4,200 people have been killed in police operations since July 2016.
The New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said the actual death toll could be more than 12,000 based on estimates by local rights and church groups.
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