Albuera Mayor Espinosa’s lawyer shot dead in Tacloban City
( - August 24, 2016 - 1:43pm

MANILA, Philippines – The lawyer of Albuera, Leyte Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and a minor companion were killed in a shooting incident in Tacloban City on Tuesday afternoon.

Lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr. 42, and his 15-year-old companion, later on identified as Angelica Bonita based on her school identification card, was shot dead by still unidentified assailants in Barangay Lumbang 2, Tacloban City around 2:30 p.m., according to a report by The Freeman.

Among Bato's clients were Mayor Espinosa and son Ronald “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., recently tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as involved in the illegal drug trade and for allegedly coddling drug traffickers. On August 3, six of their alleged aides were also gunned down in a police encounter. Espinosa has denied that the men killed near his house worked for him.

READ: Leyte mayor linked to drugs surrenders | 6 alleged aides of 'narco mayor' killed in police encounter

The lawyer sustained multiple gun wounds in his leg and chest while his girl companion, who was still in her uniform, was shot in the left side of her face.  At the crime scene, Bato was found slouching in the driver’s seat of his maroon Toyoto Hi-Lux vehicle with plate number YHH 461 while the girl was seated beside him in the front seat.

The vehicle was found with 13 entry bullet holes from an M-16 rifle and a .45 caliber pistol. The authorities also recovered 18 spent M-16 shells, six .45 caliber. shells from the crime scene, three cell phones from inside the victims' car,  and files of documents from the lawyer and the girl, which are all subject for investigation.

Director of the Police Regional Office-8 disclosed to the Freeman that Bato was among the police’s high-value targets under the Espinosa group, involved in drug transactions with the Espinosas. He also said the authorities have a witness who said Bato’s car was given by Kerwin himself.

In The Freeman report, Espinosa said some people are determined to kill them. "They just started by killing our lawyer. Soon we will be the next," he said.

Meanwhile, Tacloban City Mayor Cristina Gonzales-Romualdez also went to inspect the crime scene.

We are all outraged by this crime. The challenge posed by the criminals requires other responses, other weapons, and intelligence. There will be no impunity in this matter. No line of investigation will be discarded,” the mayr said in a Philippines News Agency report. —Rosette Adel

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