Cebu town mayor in Duterteâs narco list slain
Police officers stand guard in front of the municipal hall of Ronda in Cebu, where Mayor Mariano Blanco was shot dead yesterday.
A.N. Banaynal/The Freeman

Cebu town mayor in Duterte’s narco list slain

Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - September 6, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Cebu town mayor in President Duterte’s narco list was shot dead by unidentified men who stormed his office yesterday.

Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda town was sleeping in his office at the municipal hall in Barangay Poblacion when he was shot at around 1:30 a.m., Superintendent Reyman Tolentin, Central Visayas police spokesman, said in a text message.

Two employees who served as watchmen told police the gunmen ordered them to get down on the ground, adding that they heard successive gunshots when the assailants went up to the mayor’s office on the second floor.

Blanco was taken to the Barili District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

He reportedly had been sleeping at the municipal hall for fear of his life after he was identified as one of the local officials with alleged links to the illegal drug trade.

Blanco was among the mayors stripped of supervisory powers over the police due to illegal drugs. His security aide was also recalled.

Drugs, politics

Senior Superintendent Manuel Abrugena, Cebu police director, said probers are eyeing either politics or illegal drugs as possible motives for the killing.

“I think it was an offensive on the alleged link of the mayor to illegal drug activities... We are looking into all possible angles,” Abrugena said.

He said a drug personality could have targeted Blanco.

Abrugena said Blanco was also tagged in the killing of John Ungab, lawyer of suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, who was shot after attending a court hearing in Cebu City last February. Blanco had denied the allegation, noting that Ungab is his nephew.

NBI probe

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regional office in Central Visayas said it would help in the investigation of Blanco’s killing.

Dominador Cimafranca, NBI-Region 7 officer-in-charge, said the family of the mayor should file a request before their office. 

Blanco was among six local government officials killed this year and 11th since President Duterte assumed office.

Mayor Lowell Irol of Buenavista town in Bohol was shot dead in a cockpit last February.

Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan, Batangas who was also tagged in the illegal drug trade, was gunned down during a flag ceremony in July.

Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija was slain a day after Halili was killed.

Vice Mayors Alex Lubigan of Trece Martires, Cavite and Al Rashid Mohammad Ali of Sapa-Sapa, Tawi-Tawi were killed in separate incidents in July. – With Mae Clydyl Avila/The Freeman

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