Adios, Atty. Jonnah John Ungab

By: Atty. Ruphil F. Bañoc February 22,2018 - 10:50 PM


On the first radio breaking news that I heard last Monday morning, he was reported as a news source, being a lawyer interviewed on a case he handled that was just decided by the court. On the second breaking news on the same morning, he was made as the subject of a news story as a victim of a shooting incident within the vicinity of the court.

No suspect has been identified or arrested as of this writing. Lawyer Jonnah John Ungab was shot twice in the head by a masked assailant past 11 a.m. as he was driving along Sergio Osmena Street, Cebu City. He was just about 20 meters away from the main gate of the Cebu City Hall of Justice when the shooting incident happened.

What a shocking news story! I could not stop myself from shaking my head while I was monitoring the live coverage of station DYHP RMN Cebu. I could still recall that he attended the seminar of the Oasis of Love in 2016. I could still freshly recall the days when we met and greeted each other at the hallway of the Palace of Justice.

The earlier incident, which was the promulgation of the decision on the case of Ungab’s client, self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, triggered me to recall my column entitled “Misconception on Lawyers” published in this paper and at the last October 26, 2016. It was about the alleged involvement of Atty. Ungab in the drug trade, which he categorically denied.

Technically, that kind of allegation is over and done with, because the case that was filed against him on that matter was already dismissed at the Tacloban City Prosecutor’s Office. His claim that his relationship with the Espinosas was purely lawyer-client was upheld.

Also, when I interviewed Sr. Inspector Jonathan Taneo, spokesman of Task Force Ungab, he said that the latter was not in the PNP’s watch list of drug protectors and personalities. For now, accusing Ungab again on that matter is unfair, because he is already dead and could not anymore give his side.

Nevertheless, while the police said that they are already at 60 percent of their investigation as of this writing, they are still equally looking at three angles or possible motives of the killing namely, personal, politics and job related, the late vice mayor being a lawyer. Scrutinizing the background of Ungab is still unavoidable.

While the police are noticeably careful to say which angle is closest to reality, discussions in the coffee shops give more weight to the angle that it was job-related. People who know Ungab would say that he did not have personal grudges. Although he was an incumbent Vice Mayor of Ronda, Cebu, the town is not known for notorious politicians; so politics as a motive may be considered a remote possibility.

When I interviewed Ronda, Cebu Mayor Mariano Blanco, he said that he really know Ungab being his nephew and colleague in public service. He said personal and politics are far-fetched angles. He is confident that Ungab’s wife has an idea which angle is nearest to reality.

But with the call of Ungab’s brother, Jonald Gracio Ungab, for authorities to look into the political angle, it is incumbent upon the Task Force to give time also on that aspect. But many still give meaning to the place, vicinity of the Palace of Justice, where the ambush was executed, and the fact that it was done on the day of the promulgation of the Espinosa’s case.

So, if in case the lawyer’s death is really related to his profession, which was purely lawyering, then it is unfair and condemnable. While it is true that he handled the cases of Alvaro Alvaro, alleged drug lord in Danao City and Kenneth Dong, alleged middleman in the P6.4 billion worth of smuggled shabu from China, he has other cases also that are not drug-related. In all those cases, he was just doing his professional duty to defend his client. Whoever did it must be held answerable of the crime.

Granting for the sake of discussion that it was triggered by doing a job beyond lawyering, so who killed him? Members of a drug syndicate? Are there people who can benefit from his death? Or was the killing, a state-sponsored one, something that some are just too willing to suggest? Was it just coincidental that he is the second lawyer of the Espinosas that is gunned down?

Whatever may have been the reason, let us respect the request of the family of the victim for us not to pass judgment of the dead person.
Adios, Atty. Ungab.

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TAGS: Adios, Atty, John, Jonnah, Ungab

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