CHR looks into drug angle in Blanco slay

By Benjie B. Talisic, Jessa Mae O. Sotto |September 08,2018 - 10:13 PM

WAS Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco’s death related to President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that the former was involved in illegal drugs?

CHR-7 Chief Investigator Leo Villarino said they are now gathering evidence to determine whether or not the murder is related to the President’s war on drugs.

“Usa ra ang atong gitan-aw. Basin ang kaning iyang kamatayon (We are looking into one angle if his death was) related to the war on drugs,” Villarino told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

“If you trace back, duha na sila ka high-ranking municipal officials nga, in a span of a few months, nagsunod og kapatay. Naay estorya kabahin sa drugs ba. Dili man nato malimod naa man si Mayor Blanco sa ilang narco-list,” he added.

(If you trace back, there were already two high-ranking municipal officials who were killed in a span of few months. There are talks that it was drug-related. We cannot deny that especially that Blanco was included in their narco-list).

Villarino was referring to the town’s late Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab who was shot dead a few meters from the Cebu City Hall of Justice last Feb. 19 after attending his hearings.

Ungab is the nephew of Blanco and was the lawyer of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

Seven months later, his uncle, Blanco, was shot dead by unknown assailants inside his office at the municipal hall at around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 5.

Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale was still saddened by Blanco’s death and could not believe the mayor was included in the “narco-list.”

“From what I saw, diin man ang iyang pagka narco-politician? Nidato na unta siya kaayo. But I do not know,” said Magpale.

“I have lost a friend,” she added.

Villarino said the police should conduct a thorough investigation on Blanco’s murder.

“Bisan pa moingon ka nga ang kaning nangamatay kay naa sa ilang (Even if you say that these dead people who have died were part in their) narco-list, it is still the duty of the police to go after those who killed them, that is also a crime,” he said.

Villarino said part of their investigation is to determine whether or not the killing was state-sponsored.

“Mao man gyod na ang atong gikuan … Pero at this point we are not accusing them. Kay kadto kay naa may unidentified gunman man kuno. We are just trying to find out ba whether this has something to do with the war on drugs like katong nahitabo kang (Baby Earl) Rallos, sa kang (Von Rian) Tecson and so the other officials,” he added.

Rallos and Tecson were both officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7) who got killed in an ambush by unidentified assailants last July 27 and Aug. 8, respectively.

However, the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Manuel Abrugena denied claims that the killing was state-sponsored.

Villarino said the failure of the Ronda police to immediately respond to the shooting of Mayor Blanco poses questions.

“This is actually a failure of the police not to immediately respond. Tapad ra gud kaayo na. They can no longer make an excuse kay tapad ra,” said Villarino, who also pointed out that the failure to respond is an administrative issue which should be resolved by police officials.

Eleven police personnel, including the chief of police of Ronda were relieved. Senior Insp. Reynato Albuera, the newly appointed officer in charge assumed his post last Friday.

No police detail has been placed at Blanco’s wake.

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