CEBU (Updated) -- Lawyer Jonah John Ungab, the vice mayor of Ronda town, died after he was shot inside his car by motorcycle-riding gunmen on North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, Monday noon.
Superintendent Artemio Ricabo, Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) spokesperson, said Ungab was shot after attending a hearing of his client, suspected big-time drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, for violation of the Omnibus Election Code (gun ban) and Illegal Possession of Firearms cases filed in 2010.
Ungab was driving his Suzuki Ciaz car from Qimonda Building Complex, where the Cebu City Hall of Justice was situated, and was crossing corner Sergio Osmeña Boulevard when he was shot by two unidentified men riding a Mio scooter with no plate number.
Ungab was with his wife, Pearl, inside the vehicle during the shooting at 11:50 a.m.
The vice mayor, who was hit on the left side of the nape, was rushed to a private hospital in Mandaue City but was declared dead at 2 p.m. by attending physicians.
An ongoing manhunt operation is conducted by the police against the perpetrators.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) director Joel Doria told SunStar Cebu that they have formed Task Force Ungab to look into the murder of Ungab.
Doria said that the task force will be headed by Investigation and Detection Management Branch (IDMB) chief Ryan Devaras, together with the CCPO Homicide Section and the Mabolo Police Station.
Meanwhile, local officials in Cebu were shocked by the incident.
Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco said he was surprised that Ungab was ambushed when he has a clean record service as vice mayor for 15 years.
Blanco, who is also Ungab's maternal uncle, said he and the rest of the town officials are still looking for answers as to how Ungab was killed.
In a statement, Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale said she is also saddened of what had happened.
“I'm worried for Cebu's security. Our perception is Cebu is a very safe place but ing-ana ra diay ka sayon ang pag-ambush,” Magpale said.
In October 2016, Ungab admitted he received death threats.
He made the admission a week after then Albuera Police Chief Jovie Espenido filed criminal complaints against him before the Department of Justice and tagged him as a drug protector.
But Ungab said he had received legal fees — not protection money — from the Espinosas, and pointed out that no law prohibits government officials like him from keeping a law practice.
The case against him was later dismissed by the Office of the Assistant Prosecutor in Baybay City, Leyte, for lack of evidence and jurisdiction.
Ungab was the second lawyer killed for handling the cases of the Espinosas of Albuera, Leyte.
In August 2016, a lawyer who defended a member of the Espinosa family was also killed in an ambush.
Lawyer Rogelio Bato Jr., 48, together with a minor, was shot and killed in Tacloban City while driving his pick-up truck.
Bato was the lawyer for Kerwin's father, the late Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., who was also killed inside his detention cell in Baybay City, Leyte in November 2016. (SunStar Cebu/SunStar Philippines)
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