United Methodist mayor shot dead in Philippines

A cross with candles calls for justice and peace at a prayer vigil led by the Rev. Francis Fajardo at Wesleyan University-Philippines for slain mayor, Ferdinand Bote. Bote, mayor of the General Tinio in Nueva Ecija province, was gunned down July 3. Photo courtesy of Clarafe Gonzales & Sergio Arevalo.
A cross with candles calls for justice and peace at a prayer vigil led by the Rev. Francis Fajardo at Wesleyan University-Philippines for slain mayor, Ferdinand Bote. Bote, mayor of the General Tinio in Nueva Ecija province, was gunned down July 3. Photo courtesy of Clarafe Gonzales & Sergio Arevalo.

Filipino United Methodists have strongly condemned the July 3 killing of a United Methodist mayor.

Ferdinand Bote, mayor of General Tinio, the biggest municipality in the province of Nueva Ecija, was leaving the National Irrigation Administration in Cabanatuan City when two men on a motorcycle drove up near his vehicle and opened fire.

Bote, 57, was halfway through his first term. Prior to being elected mayor, he served as vice mayor for two terms. He was a member of Bethany United Methodist Church in General Tinio.

Bishop Ciriaco Francisco of Manila Area decried “the senseless killing” of a servant lay leader of The United Methodist Church.

“It is my plea that everyone will uphold the sacredness of life. I pray fervently that justice will roll like waters and it will be served soon to our servant leader. We are no longer safe in our own land,” Francisco said.

Bishop Rodolfo Juan expressed his deep sadness: “What happened to our United Methodist mayor is a manifestation of lawlessness and lack of peace. I strongly condemn this senseless killing of a peace-loving dedicated public servant and faithful Methodist. My prayers for comfort and peace for the whole Bote clan.” 

An unidentified member from Bethany United Methodist Church said that Bote was a lay voter to the annual conference and an active member of United Methodist Men. “Mayor Bote was so gracious to all; his whole family is so supportive to church endeavors and projects,” the Bethany member said.  

A photo of slain mayor Ferdinand Bote is displayed at a wake in his honor at the Sports Center Municipal Hall, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. Bote was the second town mayor in the Philippines who was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in two days. Photo by Gladys Mangiduyos, UMNS. 

A photo of slain mayor Ferdinand Bote is displayed at a wake in his honor at the Sports Center Municipal Hall, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija. Bote was the second town mayor in the Philippines who was shot and killed by an unknown assailant in two days. Photo by Gladys Mangiduyos, UMNS.

A day after the ambush, Wesleyan University-Philippines, a United Methodist school, held a prayer rally for justice. 

In a statement, university president Pacifico B. Aniag said: “Wesleyan University-Philippines strongly condemns the treacherous shooting of Mayor Ferdinand Bote by unknown element.”

Bote is a member of the university’s board of trustees.

Aniag said that the university denounces all forms of violence against its students, teachers, personnel and officials. “We make our appeal to the authorities to act swiftly in going after the perpetrators of this crime and to bring them to justice. There have been too many murders already done with impunity in our country. May this be the last!”

Bote’s assassination occurred a day after another local chief executive, Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, was killed by a sniper during a flag ceremony at the city hall. President Rodrigo Duterte has accused Halili of being involved in the illegal drug trade, but Bote was under no such suspicion.  

A United Methodist teacher who did not want to be identified was among the hundreds of public school teachers in the municipality who paid tribute during a second day of memorials to the mayor.

“Mayor Bote was a very low-profile person. He never wanted to be introduced with many credentials or titles. He just wanted everything to be simple,” the teacher said. “He was so approachable. He would always crack a joke so anyone would feel comfortable talking to him.”

Mangiduyos is a United Methodist News Service correspondent based in the Philippines. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

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