CEBU CITY - Ronda town Vice Mayor Jonah John Ungab received death threats hours before he was killed in an ambush here, his wife said Wednesday.
Ungab, legal counsel of confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, received text messages on Monday asking him to choose between his life or his client's life. Hours later, he was shot by unidentified gunmen while he was driving along S. Osmeña Street.
"He was killed because he was doing his job as a lawyer. To represent someone in court," Ungab's wife Pearl, who was in the passenger seat during the ambush, said in a press conference.
"I don't know what justice is all about now. I, as a grieving wife, is calling upon the public to help us," she said.
Before being shot to death, Ungab came from a hearing related to Espinosa's case.
Cebu City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 had acquitted Espinosa of illegal possession of firearms, but convicted him of the gun ban violation under the Omnibus Election Code.
"The police did not inform the court [that Espinosa] has a license[d] firearm. We were able to secure a certification from the (firearms and explosives office) during that time," Ungab had told ABS-CBN News in an interview an hour before the crime.
Ungab's family is now looking for potential witnesses whose testimonies may lead to the arrest of the gunmen.
Despite Ungab's murder, Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido, former police chief of Albuera, Leyte, did not express sympathy toward's the lawyer's death.
"So, dapat ang kondenahin nga gipatay nga wala gyud maghimo og dili maayo. Dapat dawaton because that is the consequence," Espenido said in a phone interview with ABS-CBN News.
(We should only express condemnation for the killing of lawyers who have done good. The [Integrated Bar of the Philippines] should accept the consequence.)
Espenido was the police chief when Espinosa's father, Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr., was shot dead in his own jail cell in November 2016.
Espenido earlier accused Ungab of receiving drug pay-offs from the Espinosas.
-- with a report from Annie Perez, ABS-CBN News