RONDA Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab was killed in an ambush before noon Monday after hearings in the Cebu City Hall of Justice, including one that involved his client Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr.
A lone gunman shot Ungab twice, hitting him in the left temple and jaw at 11:50 a.m., just moments after he and his wife, Pearl, left the courthouse complex in a Suzuki Ciaz.
“After he shot the victim, witnesses recalled that the gunman calmly walked away from the scene and rode a getaway motorcycle driven by another cohort,” said SPO1 Winston Ybañez, homicide investigator.
Ungab lost control of the car and hit a taxi before stopping in front of a hotel in the North Reclamation Area. His wife was unscathed.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) Director Senior Supt. Joel Doria said that investigators are looking into three angles behind the shooting.
“First is political because there were reports that he would run for mayor in Ronda; second is work-related but we wouldn’t single out the Espinosa case; and the third is personal,” Doria said.
Romeo Roxas, driver of the Hadji taxi, said that his passengers were the ones who saw the attack. One passenger remarked that the gunman looked unfazed after the shooting.
Ybañez said that the unidentified shooter acted like a professional hit man.
“His target was really the attorney. He fired and he hit the victim twice,” he said.
Ungab appeared in court yesterday morning with Espinosa, who had been flown in from Manila for the court’s decision on his cases of illegal possession of a firearm and a gun ban violation in 2010.
The court said that the gun was licensed, but ordered Espinosa to spend a year in jail for the gun ban violation.
A few minutes later, Ungab went to another courtroom to attend another hearing.
Espinosa, on the other hand, was guarded by agents from the national and local headquarters of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
Ybañez said that the police secured footage from a security camera along S. Osmeña Blvd.
The CCPO spokesperson, Supt. Artemio Ricabo, said that the CCTV footage showed the gunman waiting outside the Quimonda building.
“He seemed to answer a call, which we believe was from a spotter inside, and when he saw the victim’s car pull out, he approached it and started firing,” Ricabo said.
The assailants rode a Mio motorcycle with no plate number and fled north, Ricabo said.
Ungab was rushed to a private hospital in Mandaue City but was declared dead at 2 p.m.
Investigators recovered two empty shells from a caliber .45 pistol from the crime scene.
Doria said that the CCPO formed Task Force Ungab headed by the Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) chief, Supt. Ryan Devaras, to identify and find the gunman.
“It will be composed of the IDMB, Mabolo Police and the Homicide Section,” Doria said.
Doria said that anyone who has received death threats should report to their office and arrange for personal security.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Robert Quenery called for the immediate arrest of the gunman.
“My directive for CCPO is to conduct a thorough investigation, leaving no stones unturned, identify the suspects and bring them before the court of justice,” Quenery said.