MANILA, Philippines – Police are looking into "politics" as the motive behind the killing of Cebu town mayor Mariano Blanco III.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) made the statement on Wednesday, September 5, hours after Blanco was shot dead inside his own office in Ronda town on Wednesday, September 5.
"The information we have received is still broad and I'll just disclose the details later.... About politics," Cebu provincial police chief Senior Supterintendent Manuel Abrugena told reporters in an interview when asked about the possible motive for the crime.
He did not give other details or mention names of any political enemies of Blanco.
Blanco is the 11th mayor to be slain under the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte, following the ambush of General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote in July. (GALLERY: Who are mayors, vice mayors killed under Duterte?)
Blanco's political standing: Blanco ran under the Liberal Party in 2013 and 2016.
In the 2016 elections, Blanco defeated his lone rival, Moymoy Ungab, by 1,780 votes.
In 2017, Blanco told SunStar that he would join PDP-Laban. It is unclear whether he pushed through with the plan. (FAST FACTS: Who is Ronda, Cebu mayor Mariano Blanco III?)
Abrugena said police security detail used to escort Blanco in the past before he was stripped of police powers because of his alleged drug links.
Asked about the allegation, Abrugena said Cebu police follow the position of Camp Crame.
How he was killed: Blanco was killed in his own office, hours before dawn.
Two barangay tanods (village law enforcers) were completing their shifts at a post near the town hall when armed men stepped out of a passing white van and ordered them to lie on the ground.
Witnesses told cops they heard a "burst" of gunshots coming from the town hall where the mayor's office was. When the coast was clear, they called for cops. At that time, only two policemen were inside the station as the others on duty were either on patrol or serving a search warrant.
The two policemen called for backup. Police tried to chase the white van, but failed. (READ: At least 33 killed daily in the Philippines since Duterte assumed office)
Cops said Blanco was brought to the Barili District Hospital, almost 20 kilometers away, where he was declared dead on arrival. – Rappler.com
Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.