(Updated) The family of slain Ronda, Cebu Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab on Wednesday, February 21, urged investigators from the National Bureau of Investigators (NBI)-Central Visayas and police to look into politics as one of the reasons behind his murder.
Ungab's older brother, Jonald Gracio, told reporters in a press conference that his brother was planning to run for the mayor's seat in Ronda as he was on his third and last term.
“You were not aware naa nay pending suspension order ang mayor sa Ronda this coming March because of the pending case in Sandiganbayan,” he said.
Jonald Gracio did not name Ronda's incumbent mayor, who is his uncle Mariano Blanco.
Blanco, in a separate interview, denied the allegations.
"Nganung mukontra man ko niya (Ungab) nga last term naman ko as mayor dayun last term sad siya as vice mayor. Dili mi magka-unay," Blanco said.
(Why will I fight with him when this is my last term as mayor and he (Ungab) as vice mayor. We can't be fighting against each other)
The mayor said he can never dare harm Ungab, who is his nephew.
"Dili ni makadaot nako kay kibaw ang mga taga-Ronda kung unsa ka pinangga nako ang akong pag-umangkon," Blanco said.
(This can't hurt me because people in Ronda knows how much I care for my nephew)
He believes that Jonald Gracio has a long standing beef with him as he chose Ungab over him in choosing a running mate during the local elections in 2010.
Blanco and five other town employees were charged with 15 counts of violation of Sec. 3(e) of Republic Act 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.
The respondents committed “inexcusable negligence when they proceeded with the bidding process despite the non-posting of invitation to bid on Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (Philgeps) website,” read graft investigation and prosecution officer Eileen Mae Lagat-Alde’s 10-page resolution.
Ungab's family is considering to shell out reward money to any person who can give information leading to the arrest of the culprits.
Jonald Gracio said they also want the investigators to explore other possible reasons behind the ambush-slay, including Ungab's job as a lawyer.
When asked about Ozamiz City Police Chief Jovie Espenido's statement that he was happy Ungab was killed for he was really involved in drug trafficking, Jonald Gracio smiled, saying the police officer failed to prove his brother's involvement.
He said the complaints filed by Espenido against his brother were dismissed by the justice department for lack of evidence.
“Iyaha pod nang opinyon, (That is his opinion)” Jonald Gracio said.
Pearl, Ungab's wife, urged persons who saw the culprits to give their testimonies to the police.
“I ask you to help us, as I know that the public also believes they deserve the truth to come out. Let us not only look to one side of the story,” she said.
Pearl, a mother of six, became emotional as she demonstrated to the reporters how she tried to revive her husband after he was shot by the gunman outside the Qimonda Building-Cebu City Hall of Justice in Cebu City on Monday, February 19.
She was hurt as the people who saw them did not help them. Most of them took pictures and videos of her and the helpless vice mayor.
The attack happened after Ungab attended the promulgation of cases of his client Eastern Visayas “drug lord” Kerwin Espinosa, who was heavily guarded by NBI agents.
Pearl said Ungab did not carry a gun as he was confident he was only defending his client.
Ungab's remains will be brought back to Ronda on Saturday, February 24, and the burial will took place on the following day, Sunday, February 25. (with Justin K. Vestil/SunStar Cebu)