MANILA - (3rd UPDATE) Daanbantayan, Cebu Mayor Vicente Loot and his family were ambushed at the town's wharf Sunday morning.
Loot, a former police general who was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as a protector of drug rings, survived the attack but his 2 drivers, helper, and a wharf porter were injured.
The mayor, his wife former Mayor Malou Loot, son Board Member Shun Simora, and other family members had just arrived from Malapascua Island and were disembarking from a pump boat when 5 armed men fired at them.
The Loot patriarch doubted that the attack was linked to local politics and said "bounty hunters" may be behind the incident.
"May nagsabi sa akin na may group of bounty hunters na mga nandito. In fact, gustong 'magregalo' and we have their identities also," Loot told radio DZMM.
(Someone told me that there is a group of bounty hunters here. In fact they want to give a "gift" and we have their identities also.)
Aside from Duterte, confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa had also linked Loot to the drug trade, testifying before a 2016 Senate inquiry that he allegedly gave weekly bribes to the mayor.
Loot has denied the allegations.
In his DZMM interview, the mayor reiterated that allies of the President were responsible for tagging him as a drug protector.
"Yung isang presidential assistant dito sa Visayas, ang kaniyang chief of staff is a former PR manager ng kalaban ko sa pulitika," Loot said.
(The presidential assistant for the Visayas, his chief of staff is a former PR manager of my political rival.)
Loot did not identify who he was referring to, but the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas is headed by Michael Dino.
Loot also denied that the attack was a part of a staged ploy to garner sympathy from the public.
"Kanang mga tawo nga niingon nga drama, basin may kalabutan sila ani. Kay obviously, obvious bah? Mag-drama ka iapil nimu imong apo?" he told reporters in Cebuano.
(Those who are saying that this is drama, they may have something to do with it. Isn't is obvious? If this is drama, why will I include my grandchildren?)
Authorities have launched hot pursuit operations against the 5 ambush suspects who fled on board a white van, said Senior Insp. Irish Dilem of the Daanbantayan police.
The 4 persons wounded in the attack meanwhile were taken to the Cebu Doctors' University Hospital.
With reports from June Perez, Leleth Rumaguera, Joworski Alipon and Vilma Andales, ABS-CBN News