Manila, July 2: A controversial provincial city mayor in the Philippines known for parading drug suspects in public was shot dead during a flag-raising ceremony on Monday.
Police said Antonio Halili, mayor of Tanauan city, 66km south of the capital Manila, was shot in the chest, possibly by a sniper, at around 8am.
He died as he was being taken to hospital 45 minutes later.
Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was declared dead on arrival at a hospital from a single bullet wound to the chest, sustained as he and civil servants sang the national anthem during a ceremony in city hall in Batangas province southwest of Manila.
Halili was stripped of his supervisory powers over local police in October (2017) due to a proliferation of illegal drugs in his city, amid police allegations he may have been involved. He denied the allegations.
He was on a list of “high-value targets” linked to drugs released last year (2017) by the National Police Commission.
Police Superintendent Renato Mercado told CNN that a video showed scenes of panic seconds after the shot was fired. Halili was seen standing in a line with government employees as the flag was raised. Suddenly, a single shot rang out followed by screams and chaos.
The mayor’s security returned fire, according to state media Philippines News Agency (PNA), causing panic as government officials and staff ran for cover.
The police official said Halili was killed by a sniper.
Another investigator told a radio station that a high-powered rifle was used in the attack.
The mayor had gained prominence for implementing a “walk of shame” for drug suspects in 2016 where he paraded them for people to see and then in 2017 when he was linked by the government to illegal drugs.