Kin of slain Ronda vice mayor seek justice

THE family of Ronda, Cebu Vice Mayor and lawyer Jonnah John Ungab on Tuesday morning, February 20, cried for justice, demanding for a fast resolution of the case.

This, as the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 announced it is conducting a parallel investigation on the ambush.

The police-led Task Force Ungab, on the other hand, said it is now at 50 percent complete in its investigation.

“We are very angry that it has happened and at the same time we are very sad. Angry in a sense we were deprived of a family member in the most gruesome way. Wala gyod mi magdahom ba nga mahitabo gani ni namo (We never thought this would happen to us),” said law student John Majed Ungab, the vice mayor’s nephew.

He said Jonnah John never had direct involvement in drug trafficking, adding his uncle was just defending his client, Eastern Visayas “drug lord” Kerwin Espinosa.

The lawyer even hosted a fun run in Ronda town against illegal drugs last year.

John Majed said their close-knit family was shocked by the murder.

“We are trying to hold ourselves together. We are trying to be each other’s support system, especially for the wife and the kids (of Ungab), my mother and my dad,” he said.

The family requested the NBI 7 to help the police in solving the ambush-slay, which happened outside the Quimonda Building-Cebu City Hall of Justice last Monday.

A team of NBI agents visited the wake in a chapel of St. Peter’s Funeral Homes on Imus Road in Cebu City past 11 a.m. Tuesday, February 20.

“Two heads are better than one,” John Majed said, on the family’s decision to also seek NBI 7’s help. “We want a speedy administration of justice.”

He said they kept Jonnah John’s cell phone, saying it contained “sensitive information.”

When asked if his uncle had received threats, John Majed said: “Normal ra man siguro gyod na no for a criminal defense lawyer to receive death threats.”

“It’s no secret my uncle was handling high-profile cases,” he said. “If you were listening to the Senate inquiry held last year, he was cleared by his client (Espinosa) mismo.”

He further said: “The client said his relationship with my uncle was purely professional. That being said, it is sufficient to prove he was innocent of any connection with illegal drugs.”

Asked to comment on the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit in Cebu City last Feb. 12 that a drug personality would be killed, John Majed said his uncle was “innocent.”

In December 2016, Duterte threatened to include lawyers who defend drug suspects in his target list.

“It is unfair for lawyers to be threatened to not to do their jobs. This is a sworn duty by lawyers to protect clients at all costs. Lawyers are not allowed to choose their clients,” said John Majed.

He urged persons who saw the culprits to help authorities in identifying them.

The wake of Ungab in St. Peter’s is open to the public this week.

His interment will took place in Ronda, but the family still has to decide on the date as they are waiting for other family members to come home from abroad.

Lawyer Patricio Bernales Jr., NBI 7 director, said that aside from the police, agents will also look into the lawyer’s death.

During last Monday’s hearing, Bernales said that 14 NBI agents secured Espinosa. Atty. Ungab, who had other cases to attend to in other salas, did not ask for the agency’s security.

Bernales said that Dr. Rene Cam, NBI 7 medico-legal officer, conducted an autopsy last Monday night.

The Task Force Ungab of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), meanwhile, assured that they are now at 50 percent in their investigation to locate and identify the gunman and his cohort.

The Intelligence and Detection Management Branch chief, Supt. Ryan Deveras, said that they are also looking into the alleged death threats received by the slain lawyer. Authorities are verifying information that someone texted Jonnah John, demanding him to stop defending Espinosa in court. Devaras, though, said the task force only has one witness so far. They will try to come up with a sketch of the gunman’s face. (KAL/JOB/JKV)
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