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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Ambush brings political clan’s tension to surface

RONDA Mayor Mariano “Noni” Blanco denied insinuations by the eldest brother of Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab that politics may have been behind the latter’s death.

In a phone interview, Blanco dismissed Jonald Gracio Ungab’s statement that the mayor may have been behind the lawyer’s death.

Jonald Gracio said that his younger brother was being groomed to run for Ronda mayor in 2019, after three consecutive terms as vice mayor.

“Nganong mokontra man ko niya (Ungab) nga last term na man ko as mayor dayon last term sad siya as vice mayor? Dili mi magka-unay (Why would I run for mayor against him when I’m on my last term. So was he),” Blanco said.

‘The people know’

The mayor said he would never have dared to harm Ungab, his nephew. “Kahibaw ang mga taga-Ronda kon unsa kapinangga nako ang akong pag-umangkon (The people of Ronda know how much I cared for my nephew),” Blanco said.

He believes that Jonald Gracio has a long-standing grudge against him after he chose Jonnah John as his running mate during the local elections in 2010.

Jonald Gracio filed criminal and administrative cases against the incumbent mayor and five other officials before the anti-graft office in 2012, for their alleged failure to post bid notices on the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System website.

Last year, the Office of the Ombudsman found probable cause to charge Blanco and his five colleagues with 15 counts of violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

Blanco also said that when he ran for his last term as mayor in 2016, Jonald Gracio was his opponent. Blanco defeated his nephew by 1,780 votes.

In a separate venue, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Robert Quenery said the PRO can provide personnel as security for the family, should they ask for it.

“Well, if they ask, we are willing to give them security protection. But as of now wala pa naman akong natatangap na request (I have not received a request),” Quenery said.

Trail

Quenery said that investigators will ask for videos captured by surveillance cameras in the areas where Ungab passed before he was shot last Monday morning in Cebu City.

Director Quenery was in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday for the turnover of patrol vehicles to the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office.

According to him, Task Force Ungab will hold its second case conference tomorrow. The group is looking at three angles: Ungab’s work as a lawyer, his involvement in politics, and a personal relationship.

Ungab was the legal counsel of self-confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr. and attended the promulgation of one of Espinosa’s cases shortly before last Monday’s ambush in Cebu City’s North Reclamation Area.

When asked if they had received information that Ungab was also involved in illegal drugs, Quenery said he only read that in the newspapers.

“We are also still looking into that. That is part of the investigation that is being conducted by the task force. The list of drug (personalities) is being validated through and through. I cannot categorically say that he (Ungab) is in it or he is not in the list because it would be unfair for us to be naming persons on that list,” he said.

Ungab’s cellphone will be sent to the PNP Crime Laboratory 7 for an examination.

The Ungab family has also asked the National Bureau of Investigation, which is under the justice department, to investigate the case.

In their first press conference since the ambush, the family appealed for more witnesses to tell investigators what they saw. The gunman and his companion remain at large and unidentified. (With FMG)
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