MANILA (7th UPDATE) - The mayor of Calbayog City in Samar was killed on Monday in an incident surrounded by conflicting reports on whether it was an ambush or a shootout.
Mayor Ronaldo Aquino is the latest local official slain under President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. His death has brought to 25 the tally of local executives killed in this administration.
Reports from police said Aquino was in the vehicle when the incident happened at the Laboyao Bridge in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City around 5:30 p.m.
Monday's supposed encounter left 5 dead, of which 2 were from the side of the PNP. A civilian employee from Aquino's camp, and one personnel from the national police were wounded, according to authorities.
The local chief executive's death happened over a week after Vice-Mayor Restituto Calonge of Mabuhay town, Zamboanga Sibugay was killed, and some 3 months since another mayor, Caesar Perez of Los Baños, Laguna, was fatally shot at the municipal hall.
Here is a list of local officials who have been killed since Duterte took power in 2016, some of whom were tagged in the illegal drug trade:
1. Vice Mayor Aaron Sampaga of Pamplona town, Cagayan
Sampaga was shot by unidentified gunmen in his province on Aug. 5, 2016. He was rushed to a hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
2. Mayor Samsudin Dimaukom of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town, Maguindanao
Dimaukom was gunned down along with 9 of his men following a shootout with policemen on Oct. 28, 2016.
The mayor's convoy was flagged down at a police checkpoint in Barangay Bulatukan based on information that the group would transport illegal drugs to the Maguindanao and Cotabato area.
The mayor's convoy allegedly did not stop and the men fired at operatives.
The mayor and his wife were on Duterte's list of incumbent and retired government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade. The couple had denied the allegations.
3. Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera town, Leyte
Espinosa was shot dead inside his cell at the Baybay City Provincial Jail on Nov. 5, 2016.
He was arrested the previous month for illegal drug possession and was among the politicians Duterte linked to the illegal drug trade.
4. Vice Mayor Anwar Sindatuk of Datu Saudi-Ampatuan town, Maguindanao
Sindatuk was shot dead by unidentified gunmen inside his house in Barangay Madia on Nov. 27, 2016.
Police said they are looking into "rido" or family feud as the motive behind the killing.
The vice mayor was also tagged by Duterte as a narco-politician.
5. Mayor Mohammad Limbona of Pantar town, Lanao del Norte
Limbona was killed after unidentified gunmen attacked his vehicle in Iligan City on Dec. 30, 2016.
Limbona's killing may have been politically motivated as the mayoral seat was hotly contested in the May 2016 elections, police said.
6. Mayor Arsenio Agustin of Marcos town, Ilocos Norte
Agustin was at a construction site in Barangay Mabut, Marcos town when he was shot by an unidentified assailant on June 3, 2017.
7. Mayor Joven Hidalgo of Balete town, Batangas
Hidalgo was gunned down while watching a basketball game at a court beside a police station in Barangay Poblacion, Balete on June 10, 2017.
He was rushed to the Metro Lipa Hospital but was declared dead on arrival.
8. Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog of Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental
Parojinog and 15 others, including his wife, brother and nephew, were killed in a series of raids in San Roque Lawis, Ozamiz City on July 30, 2017.
Police said they met violent resistance when they served 6 search warrants for firearms in the properties of Parojinog and his family.
Parojinog was among local officials on Duterte's narco-list. The mayor denied involvement in the illegal drug trade.
His daughter Vice Mayor Nova Princess Parojinog, who was arrested in the operation, was reportedly in a relationship with high-profile Bilibid inmate Herbert Colanggo.
Nova Parojinog remains detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center, while her brother is detained at the Quezon City Jail.
9. Vice Mayor Jackson Dy of Roxas town, Oriental Mindoro
Dy was shot dead while having his car washed on Sept. 23, 2017.
Police identified the gunman, Benjamin Buruanga, who was released from jail on a charge of murder 10 days prior the vice mayor's shooting.
10. Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab of Ronda town, Cebu
Ungab was driving when 2 individuals approached his vehicle and shot him along Osmeña Street in Cebu City on Feb. 19, 2018.
Ungab, who was legal counsel of self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, had just come from a court promulgation relating to the case against his client when he was shot dead.
11. Mayor Ronald Tirol of Buenavista town, Bohol
Tirol was shot dead by three men aboard two motorcycles near the town's cockpit arena on May 27, 2018.
The mayor sustained two gunshot wounds to his head. He was rushed to the hospital but succumbed to his wounds.
12. Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan City, Batangas
Halili, who was known for ordering suspected criminals to take "walks of shame," was shot dead during a flag ceremony in his city on July 2, 2018.
Hours after his death, Duterte slammed the slain mayor, saying the latter pretended to be an anti-illegal drug crusader to cover up his supposed drug activities.
Halili's daughter, meanwhile, said Duterte was given false information about her father.
In 2017, the mayor lost supervision over the police, along with other officials accused of involvement in the narcotics trade.
In May 2016, then incoming President Duterte promised to support the mayor's initiatives to curb the illegal drug trade in Tanauan.
13. Mayor Ferdinand Bote of General Tinio town, Nueva Ecija
Bote was shot dead on July 3, 2018, a day after Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili was gunned down in Batangas.
The mayor was about to leave the National Irrigation Administration office in Cabanatuan City when an unidentified assailant approached his vehicle and shot him through the passenger's side.
Then Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Bote was a supporter of the President and had no drug links.
14. Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan of Trece Martires town, Cavite
Lubigan was killed aboard his vehicle outside the Korean-Philippines Hospital in Cavite on July 7, 2018.
Unidentified gunmen aboard an SUV hit the vice mayor's vehicle and opened fire.
15. Vice Mayor Al-Rashid Mohammad Ali of Sapa-Sapa town, Tawi-Tawi
Ali was on board his vehicle when he was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen in Zamboanga City on July 11, 2018.
At the time of his death, Ali was the seventh victim of a shooting incident in Zamboanga City.
16. Mayor Mariano Blanco III of Ronda town, Cebu
Blanco was inside his office in Ronda when he was shot by armed men on Sept. 5, 2018.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at 2:25 a.m. after being rushed to a hospital in nearby Barili town.
Blanco was among the 3 local chief executives who were not invited to a meeting with the President in Cebu in May that year.
17. Mayor Alexander Buquing of Sudipen town, La Union
Buquing and his wife, Vice Mayor Wendy Buquing, were on their way home when the assailants waylaid their vehicle in Barangay Cadapli in the town of Bangar on Oct. 1, 2018.
The mayor died after he sustained multiple gunshot wounds in different parts of his body while his wife was left wounded.
The mayor's driver, Bonifacio Depdepen, and his bodyguard, Rolando Juan Be, were also killed.
18. Vice Mayor Alfred Concepcion of Balaoan town, La Union
Concepcion and his daughter Mayor Aleli Concepcion were on their way to the town hall on Nov. 14, 2018 when suspects opened fire on their vehicle, killing the former.
The elder Concepcion died from multiple gunshot wounds while the town mayor was wounded in the attack, police said.
19. Vice Mayor Sergio Popoy Francisco Emprese of San Andres town, Quezon
Emprese was ambushed inside his home in San Andres town, Quezon on August 21.
He was rushed to the hospital but died while being treated.
20. Vice Mayor Charlie Yuson III of Batuan town, Masbate
Yuson and his two companions were having breakfast in Sampaloc, Manila when men aboard a silver gray van approached them on October 9, 2019 and opened fire.
Yuson was killed while his companions were wounded.
21. Mayor David Navarro of Clarin town, Misamis Occidental
Navarro was shot by unknown gunmen on Oct. 25, 2019 while he was on a police vehicle en route to the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
He was previously tagged in the President's "narco-list."
22. Mayor Caesar Perez of Los Baños town, Laguna
Perez was shot by unidentified assailants inside the municipal hall compound on Dec. 3, 2020, after getting back from a spa in Brgy. Baybayin.
Last year, he was included in the Duterte administration's list of politicians with alleged links to illegal drugs. The mayor had denied this.
23. Mayor Christopher Cuan of Libungan town, Cotabato
Cuan and his driver were shot dead on the morning of Jan. 11, 2021 at a cockpit arena in the municipality, police said.
The mayor and his driver Edwin Ihao, were tailed by 4 gunmen onboard a blue SUV and shot them "several times using unidentified long firearms," according to initial investigation.
Cuan was also supposedly included in Duterte's illegal drug watchlist.
24. Vice Mayor Restituto Calonge of Mabuhay town, Zamboanga Sibugay
Calonge was shot dead while two others were wounded in an attack last February 26.
The gunman fired multiple shots using a .45 caliber pistol, killing Calonge on the spot, and fled on a motorcycle, police said.
25. Mayor Ronaldo Aquino of Calbayog City, Samar
Aquino, his security detail and driver were killed in a supposed shootout with police in Barangay Lonoy, Calbayog City on March 8.
Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento refuted police claim of a gunfight, saying the mayor was ambushed as the police was already waiting for Aquino's vehicle at Laboyao Bridge before the shooting incident.
Two policemen who supposedly exchanged gunfire with the camp of Aquino also died, according to the Philippine National Police.