Former Medellin mayor Ricardo Ramirez is shown during his arrest for possession of illegal firearms and drug paraphernalia in 2017. Left photo shows the bloodstained bathroom where Ramirez tried to hide as gunmen stormed his suite and killed him at the Bogo-Medellin Corp. Medical Center in Medellin, Cebu the other night.
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Ex-Cebu town mayor gunned down in hospital
Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A former town mayor of Medellin, Cebu allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade was shot dead by armed men inside his room at a local hospital, police reported yesterday.

Around 15 heavily armed men wearing ski masks arrived at the single-story Bogo-Medellin Corp. Medical Center in Barangay Luy-a at around 11:50 p.m. Tuesday in three sport utility vehicles and a sedan.

The masked men found the victim’s hospital room and shot dead former mayor Ricardo Ramirez, 55, who was facing drug-related charges and under hospital arrest.

Ramirez, incumbent town councilor of Medellin,

was a three-term mayor who won as councilor in the 2016 elections. He did not run for any elective post in the polls last May.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Col. Bernard Banac said investigators are working overtime to identity the suspects.

“The killing of former Medellin mayor Ricardo Ramirez inside a hospital is now being investigated to identity the perpetrators and make them accountable before the law,” he said in a statement.

According to Cebu police spokesman Lt. Col. Eloveo Marquez, the masked suspects fired warning shots as they disarmed two security guards and ordered all hospital employees to lie on the floor.

The suspects asked a nurse for the location of Ramirez’s room. They later destroyed the room’s door using a battering ram.

Ramirez and his son’s girlfriend ran toward the comfort room while his security detail from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) waited outside and was disarmed by the suspects.

Jail Officer Renan Pableo, who was assigned to guard Ramirez, recalled that the incident happened very fast.

They were just watching television inside the hospital room when he heard gunshots outside the room.

Hearing the commotion, Ramirez ran towards the bathroom of his hospital room to hide and was followed by his son’s girlfriend, who was not immediately identified.

Pableo attempted to stop the perpetrators by blocking the door but the suspects continued shooting at the locked door.

He said the attackers forcibly opened the door, disarmed him and took his cellphone and forced him to lie face down on the floor.

One of the gunmen went to the comfort room and shots were fired.

He said the Ramirez son’s girlfriend was unharmed but the former mayor suffered several gunshot wounds.

The gunmen spared the woman and the jail guard.

Investigators recovered 35 bullet casings from a 5.56 rifle and a 9 mm pistol at the scene.

The assailants were already gone when policemen arrived at the hospital several minutes later.

Probers are relying on the accounts of witnesses to identity the suspects as the hospital has no surveillance cameras.

Ramirez was arrested in July 26, 2017 when policemen enforcing a search warrant recovered assorted drug paraphernalia from the former mayor’s house.

Marquez said Ramirez had been confined for various ailments and had been under hospital arrest since then.

According to Marquez, the victim was a confirmed drug user. Investigators reportedly found assorted drug paraphernalia in his hospital room.

Banac, meanwhile, said the incident is not a reflection of the overall peace and order situation in Cebu.

“The PNP assures the public that the peace and order situation in Cebu is under control and our forces there remain vigilant to prevent occurrence of crimes,” he said.

Medellin police chief Major Audie Pelayo said they are investigating if the suspects in the murder of the former mayor are connected to the illegal drug trade but they are not discounting other possible motives.

Ramirez was arrested by operatives of the police Regional Special Operations Group in July 2017 for possession of unlicensed firearms and drug paraphernalia.

Former Police Regional Office-7 Director Jose Mario Espino previously tagged Ramirez as a “high-value target” drug personality. - With Mae Clydyl Avila, Aldo Nelbert Banaynal/Freeman

RICARDO RAMIREZ
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