A 37-year-old major in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's security force was found dead on Tuesday at 8:50 a.m. local time (0050 UTC) in his room in Malacanang Park, where Duterte's elite security forces have their compound. The compound also includes the president's official residence, known as the House of Hope (Bahay Pangarap), though the two buildings are far away from one another.
Major Harin Gonzaga's wife found her husband's body with a gunshot wound to the chest. The head of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) Brigadier General Lope Dagoy said nothing pointed to a struggle as cause of death.
"We are ruling out foul play," Dagoy said. "Certainly no foul play."
He also added that other PSG did not find out about the shooting until Gonzaga's wife discovered the body. However, Dagoy cautioned that an investigation was still ongoing.
Where was President Duterte?
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's whereabouts remained unclear in the aftermath of a shooting in the Manila compound.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella could not confirm Duterte's location when asked about it on Tuesday morning. "We don't have any information regarding that," Abella told reporters when journalists asked where the president was at the time of the shooting.
However, Reuters reported that a palace official, who requested anonymity, confirmed that Duterte was not on site when the shooting took place.
Duterte is notorious for his tendency to disappear from the presidential residence, which he reportedly dislikes. The Davao City born ruler often spends Friday to Monday in his home town, where he was also the mayor for three years. Duterte is also known for keeping an unpredictable schedule.
He is due in Manila on Tuesday evening for public events.
The Philippines elected Duterte in May 2016 after he promised to wage a war on drugs and rid the Southeast Asian nation of illegal drug use. Since entering office last June, his forces have killed over 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, according to Human Rights Watch. Critics say that many of the killings have been outside of the scope of law.
cmb/se (dpa, Reuters, AFP)