The University of the Philippines-Los Baños condemned the killing of Los Baños, Laguna Mayor Caesar Perez and recalled his contributions to the university.
Perez, who was also the province’s former vice governor, was reportedly shot twice in the head by unidentified gunmen within the municipal compound on Thursday evening, police said.
Police Lt. Col. Chitadel Gaoiran, Laguna Police Provincial Office spokesperson, noted that the incident happened after the mayor had just gotten a massage from a nearby spa and was walking towards the municipal hall in Barangay Timugan at 8:45 pm.
The Philippine National Police is still investigating the case.
“We have not yet received any material information as regards the identity of persons responsible for the death of Mayor Perez. There are no persons of interest either,” said Police Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana, PNP spokesperson.
In a statement on Friday, the UPLB denounced the killing as “an affront to our dearly respect for human rights and must immediately be investigated.”
“We call on the authorities to probe into the circumstances behind the killing of Mayor Perez and bring the perpetrators to justice. We would also like to appeal to the residents of Los Baños to denounce this utter disregard for judicial processes as can be seen in the killing of Mayor Perez,” it said.
— UP Los Baños (@UPLBOfficial) December 4, 2020
The university then described Perez as a “staunch ally and supporter of UPLB” in relation to helping carry out its mandate “in instruction, research and extension.”
It further Perez’s hand in making the campus crime-free.
“He unfailingly helped facilitate the implementation of our activities and programs and provided the resources that we requested from him. He helped keep our campus secure and free from criminal elements through a partnership we have nurtured with the local government of Los Baños and the barangays where UPLB campus is located,” it said.
UPLB also expressed its condolences to Perez’s family and the rest of the municipality.
“We express our deepest condolences to the people whom Mayor Perez left behind—his immediate family and the Los Baños community. The UPLB mourns with you,” it said.
Calls for justice
Following reports of his death, Perez’s supporters took to social media to call on authorities for justice through the hashtag #JusticeForMayorPerez.
— NICOLE LAJARCA (@LajarcaNicole) December 4, 2020
They described him as a “father figure” and served as an inspiration to them through his public service.
“My hometown lost a father figure tonight. Rest in Peace and thank you for your service and love for Los Baños, Mayor Perez,” one user said.
“It comes with a heavy heart, as we have to say goodbye to the best leader and father of our municipality. Rest in paradise Mayor!” another wrote.
His death is seen linked to his inclusion in President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial list of politicians allegedly involved in illegal drugs released in 2019.
The Department of Interior and Local Government have also filed administrative cases against the 46 politicians on Duterte’s narco-list.
In a previous interview with ANC, Perez alleged that his inclusion in the list was politically motivated.
“Yan ay politically motivated kasi 2017 pa nag-start yang rumor na yan na ako ay kasama sa drugs so inignore ko lang yan kasi alam ko na hindi totoo yan,” he said.
In 2017, Perez was stripped of his powers over the local police due to the same allegations of being involved in the drug trade.
Akbayan chair emeritus Etta Rosales, meanwhile, stated that the incident reflects the culture of impunity under the current administration, citing 20 other government officials who have been killed since 2016.
“This state of impunity Mr. Duterte proudly boasts of has led to the unresolved killings of 20 local officials. His track record does not clear him of the responsibility to launch a full-blown investigation of LGU killings under his watch. He must be held accountable, and rightfully so,” Rosales said.