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Inside municipal hall: Ronda mayor killed
Members of the Regional Mobile Force Battalion-7 secure the municipal hall of Ronda, Cebu following the shooting to death of Mayor Mariano Blanco III (inset).
Aldo Nelbert Banaynal

Inside municipal hall: Ronda mayor killed

May B. Miasco, Rowena D. Capistrano, Le Phyllis F. Antojado, Mae Clydyl L. Avila (The Freeman) - September 6, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — In a brazen act of violence, four men barged into the municipal hall in the southwestern town of Ronda in Cebu and shot the mayor, Mariano Blanco, dead early dawn yesterday.

SPO1 Dionisio Tagopa said the suspects arrived at the town hall on board a white van at past 1 a.m. and told two job order employees in Tagalog to duck down before proceeding to the mayor’s office on the second floor via an extended staircase at the back of the building.

Moments later, the employees heard bursts of gunfire.

“Naabot ang van gikan sa left side dayon nihunong SB building, human nakita nila naa upat ka tawo ninaog… pagkanaog, nition sa armas sa ilaha niya gipahapa sila, ‘dapa’ daw… wala na sila nakadetalye sa nawng ug armas kay tungod guro sa kahadlok na pud,” Tagopa said.

The assailants left the town hall on board the same white van.

Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) later found Blanco’s body slumped on his chair, covered in his own blood.
Second victim

Blanco has been spending his nights at the municipal hall for fear of his safety after President Rodrigo Duterte tagged him as a narco-politician.

His security detail from the police was also pulled out after the President’s statement.

Blanco is the second high ranking government official in Cebu killed in just seven months.

In February, his vice mayor and distant relative, Jonah John Ungab, was ambushed as he was driving out of the Hall of Justice in Cebu City where he attended the promulgation of the case against his client, top drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Duterte also named Ungab as a drug protector.

Cebu Provincial Police Office Director, Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, said the killing yesterday may have something to do with Blanco’s alleged links to the illegal drug trade.

“I think it as an offensive on the alleged link of the mayor in the illegal drug activities. Nag-conduct pa rin tayo ng investigation… (but) isa sa mga angle din ay yung links niya pagkamatay kay vice mayor (Ungab)… we will be checking all possible angles,” Abrugena said.

Blanco has since denied the drug allegations against him, as well as allegations he may have had something to do with Ungab’s death.

Cops

When the shooting happened, about 10 policemen were on duty at the Ronda Police Station just a few steps away from the municipal hall, but six of them, including station chief Jay Palcon, were on their way to serve an arrest warrant at that time.

The two cops left at the station did not immediately respond to the scene reportedly because they did not hear the gunshots clearly.

It was only when the two employees arrived at the police station and begged for help when the desk officer called for backup.

“The police officers were about to serve a warrant for theft and murder when the job order employees came rushing for help for Mayor Blanco. The desk officer called the operatives back,” Tagopa said.

Probe

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-7 is ready to help investigate Blanco’s killing per request of Governor Hilario Davide III.

Atty. Dominador Cimafranca, officer-in-charge of NBI 7, said Blanco’s family only needs to file a formal request.

The Commission on Human Rights - 7, too, is willing to open a separate probe.

“We are thus calling the law enforcement agencies to expedite the criminal investigation and bring to court the real perpetrators as we initiate our parallel investigation for such dastardly act,” said CHR-7 Director Arvin Odron.

He said CHR condones the killings as they defy fundamental rights and laws.

Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante urged the police to fast track the investigation. He said it has been a while since he saw Blanco last in the League of Mayors of the Philippines.

“Akoa, naa may kapolisan, although kami sa LMP among dako nga pahasubo sa kaparyentehan ug constituents ni Mayor Blanco… kanang sa kaso, ato na isalig sa kapolisan, naa man atong kapolisan nag-investigate man ana… manghinaot lang ta nga masulbad og dali sa kapolisan ang maong krimen,” Diamante said. (FREEMAN)

MARIANO BLANCO
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