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Philippines mayor Antonio Halili shot dead by sniper, police chief says

CNN logo CNN 7/2/2018 By Euan McKirdy, CNN

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The controversial mayor of Philippines' Tanauan City has been killed by a sniper, the city's police chief said.

Mayor Antonio Halili, who gained notoriety for parading people arrested on drug offenses, was killed with a single shot to the chest from an unknown assailant, Police Superintendent Renato Mercado told CNN.

Halili was shot during a flag-raising ceremony in front of Tanauan City Hall shortly after 8 a.m. Monday (8 p.m. Sunday ET), and declared dead at the Reyes Memorial Hospital in the city less that an hour later, attending physician Alexander Carandang said.

Police currently do not have any suspects or motives for the killing, but Halili's controversial practice of parading suspects through Tanauan had raised his profile.

TANAUAN CITY, BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES - 2016/09/30: Mayor Antonio Halili, the controversial mayor who conceptualized the 'walk of shame' for criminals in Tanauan City speaking to thousand of drug addict surrenderers.The city where the controversial walk of shame for drug pushers and addicts had lined up various programs geared towards the full rehabilitation of the city's "drug surrenders". First of such activities, entitled "Values Enhancement And Personality Development, 2016 at Brgy. Poblacion 6, Tanauan City, Batangas. Around 1,000 surrenders attended. (Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images): TANAUAN CITY, BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES - 2016/09/30: Mayor Antonio Halili, the controversial mayor who conceptualized the 'walk of shame' for criminals in Tanauan City speaking to thousand of drug addict surrenderers. The city where the controversial walk of shame for drug pushers and addicts had lined up various programs geared towards the full rehabilitation of the city's "drug surrenders". First of such activities, entitled "Values Enhancement And Personality Development, 2016 at Brgy. Poblacion 6, Tanauan City, Batangas. Around 1,000 surrenders attended. (Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) © Pacific Press/LightRocket/LightRocket via Getty Images TANAUAN CITY, BATANGAS, PHILIPPINES - 2016/09/30: Mayor Antonio Halili, the controversial mayor who conceptualized the 'walk of shame' for criminals in Tanauan City speaking to thousand of drug addict surrenderers. The city where the controversial walk of shame for drug pushers and addicts had lined up various programs geared towards the full rehabilitation of the city's "drug surrenders". First of such activities, entitled "Values Enhancement And Personality Development, 2016 at Brgy. Poblacion 6, Tanauan City, Batangas. Around 1,000 surrenders attended. (Photo by Sherbien Dacalanio/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) Those paraded had confessed to drug offenses but had not been formally charged, he told CNN in an interview in 2016.

Halili started the contentious policy in 2014 with the help of his 70-strong "anti-crime group," government officials who dressed in all black and patrolled the streets, some armed with their own guns.

He came to prominence in a zero-tolerance climate for drug offenses in the country, led by President Rodrigo Duterte's infamous war on drugs, which has seen thousands of suspected drug users and dealers gunned down by police and vigilantes.

Halili identified strongly with the controversial leader -- "They call me the 'Duterte of Batangas,'" he told CNN in 2016, referring to the province in which Tanauan is located -- and said he was a proud supporter of Duterte and his controversial policies.

However, even before Duterte came to power Halili had made a name for himself with the controversial perp walks.

Journalist Charie Villa contributed to this report

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