The Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to receive a formal report on the killing of Mayor Darussalam Lajid of Al-Barka, Basilan province and whether it was politically motivated or not.
DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Tuesday the local police is working on the case but he also alerted the National Bureau of Investigation to extend assistance. Sali belongs to the local United Bangsamoro Party and is also a Lakas-CMD Basilan member.
Lajid was with Akbar town Mayor Alih Awal Sali, their driver and Sali’s cousin, Farrad Nurrudin, and escorts when four gunmen on motorcycles ambushed them on their way to a seaside mosque in Barangay Baliwasan, Zamboanga City on Monday morning.
Nurrudin also died while Sali was wounded.
“We’ll let the police do the initial investigation first. If the incident was politically motivated and unrelated to any advocacy, it would not be a proper subject for an AO 35 special investigation,” Guevarra told reporters via text message, referring to the inter-agency task force under Administrative Order No. 35 that investigates cases of extrajudicial killings.
“We’ll see first if the local police could solve it,” he added.
Initial investigation showed the victims, who came from Basilan, have just disembarked from a speed boat and were walking toward their waiting vehicles when repeatedly shot using .45- caliber pistols.
Davao Mayor Sara Duterte condemned the incident, saying Lajid’s “demise is truly tragic and heartbreaking. This cowardly act deserves our collective outrage and condemnation”.
Lajid was a member of Lakas-CMD (Christian Muslim Democrats), which Duterte chairs.