MANILA, Philippines - A Philippines Presidential guard was found dead in mysterious circumstances inside the Presidential palace compound, shocking authorities in the country.
The officer belonged to the elite presidential unit in charge of Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte’s security and was identified as 37-year-old Maj. Harim Gonzaga.
The guard reportedly died of a self-inflicted wound on Tuesday in an apparent suicide inside the tightly secured presidential Malacañang palace compound.
The discovery of the guard’s body triggered an immediate security clampdown.
Local reports noted that Duterte was far away when the incident took place.
The Presidential Security Group said in a statement that Gonzaga was “found lifeless due to a gunshot wound in his chest area while he was inside his quarters.”
The body was discovered shortly before work hours Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters, Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said, “It’s being investigated and the nature of the situation needs to be clarified. We don’t know the exact nature of this incident.”
Further, Group commander Lope Dagoy told reporters “foul play” or terrorism were being ruled out as the cause of Gonzaga’s death.
Dagoy added that police were investigating the shooting.
Later, reports clarified that it was not clear whether Duterte was in his Bahay ng Pagbabago (House of Change) residence separated by a waterway from the main presidential palace compound.
Dagoy said, “I assume the president was there when the incident happened, but he was far away from the source of the gunshot.”
Speaking to investigators, Gonzaga’s widow, who also works as part of the presidential security escort said they did not have any recent major fights.
Dagoy said that the window added that the deceased officer had complained of work-related pressures.