Police say they have new witnesses in Blanco slay

By Nestle L. Semilla |September 10,2018 - 10:33 PM


Operatives working on the murder of Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III are looking for at least two more witnesses whom they said saw the arrival and escape of the four armed assailants who killed the mayor.

Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) director Senior Supt. Manuel Abrugena, said that the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) is currently looking for the said witnesses.

“May hinahanap po kami. Base ito sa impormasyong nakuha namin may additional na witnesses,” said Abrugena in an interview yesterday.
(We are now looking for the other witnesses. Based on the information we got, there are additional witnesses)

Abrugena however, said they have yet to identify the possible witnesses but added that the information they got stated that they saw the arrival and departure of the suspects at the Ronda Municipal Hall where Blanco was killed.

Blanco was assassinated by at least four armed men who barged into the town hall at around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 5.

Blanco’s death came seven months since his nephew and the town’s Vice Mayor, Jonah John Ungab, was also killed by a motorcycle-riding in tandem as he was about to leave the Palace of Justice in Cebu City on February 19, 2018.

Mayor Blanco, who was on President Rodrigo Duterte’s list of alleged narco-politicians, died from the multiple gunshot wounds on his body.

Secure witnesses

Meanwhile, Abrugena said that he already directed the new Ronda Police chief to secure the two job order (JO) employees who was at the municipal hall when the mayor was murdered.

He also said that he has not received any report that the two JOs are now in hiding as alleged by new-installed Mayor Rocky Gabatan.

In an earlier interview with Cebu Daily News, Gabatan bared that the two employees have gone into hiding and have not reported for work since September 5, the day Blanco was killed.

Both have also left their homes and their families to hide, Gabatan added.

Abrugena said that the two JO employees are very vital in their investigation.

“They are very important because without them we will have difficulties to pinpoint and to determine what really happened when the mayor was killed,” said Abrugena.

Nat’l group formed to probe killings

Meanwhile, Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has directed the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management (DIDM) to spearhead a national group which would investigate the killings of local executives.

“I have designated the Director for Investigation and Detective Management […] to constitute and head a National Investigation Task Group that will closely monitor and facilitate national level coordination of all investigative efforts by the different PNP Units, Offices and SITGs involved in the investigation of incidents involving LCEs,” Albayalde said on Monday.

DIDM Director Elmo Francis Sarona will head the group, which will focus on the recent assassination of city and municipal mayors and vice mayors, especially the case of Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda, Cebu.

“Of priority concern are the recent deaths of Ronda, Cebu Mayor Mariano Blanco and Vice Mayor John Ungab, Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, Gen. Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote, and Trece Martires City Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan,” Albayalde added.

According to the PNP chief, the task groups are considering politics as a possible angle for the killing.

“The SITG investigating the murder of Mayor Blanco is closely looking into politics as possible motive for the murder, although other possibilities are also being carefully looked into as suggested by strong leads and significant findings,” Albayalde said. /with Inquirer.net

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