Kin of slain Cebuano lawyer urge arrest of killers, mastermind | Inquirer News

Kin of slain Cebuano lawyer urge arrest of killers, mastermind

CEBU CITY-The family of slain Cebuano lawyer Jonnah John Ungab has appealed to authorities to identify and arrest the assailants as well as the mastermind behind the crime.

“We demand justice. We’re very angry and sad. We’re trying to hold ourselves together as we try to be each other’s support system,” said Ungab’s nephew Jed who was designated as the family’s spokesperson.

He appealed to those who saw the actual shooting to help authorities in going after the perpetrators.


“Your testimonies will surely help us as we build up a case against the culprits,” he said.


Ungab, lawyer of self-confessed drug lord Rolando “Kerwin” Espinosa Jr., was killed in an ambush while driving his car about 20 meters from the Cebu City Hall of Justice at 11:50 a.m. on Monday.

Ungab, also the vice mayor of Ronda town in southern Cebu, was rushed to a hospital but later died of two bullet wounds in the head.

He was with his wife, Pearl, when the incident happened. Pearl was unharmed.


Less than two hours before the crime, Ungab attended to three court proceedings, including the promulgation of Espinosa, who was convicted of violating the election gun ban for carrying two firearms in 2010.

Jed said the family has requested the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to step in and help the police in the investigation.


“Two heads are better than one. Why not get the help of the two agencies? We want the speedy administration of justice. That’s what we seek,” he said.

NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales gave the assurance that they would do everything to help the Ungab family obtain justice.

“We will closely coordinate with the police in the investigation,” he said.


Based on the footage of a closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera from one of the establishments near the crime scene, the assailant waited for Ungab’s vehicle to pass by the Port Service Road, said Supt. Ryan Devaras, chief of Cebu City Investigation and Detective Management Branch.

When Ungab’s car slowed down while on his way to turn right from the Port Service Road to S. Osmeña Road, the assailant casually walked to the driver side and fired twice at the lawyer.

The assailant boarded a get-away motorcyle driven by another person and sped away towards north.

CHR probe

The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR) also decided to investigate Ungab’s death because the victim didn’t only serve as lawyer for the Espinosas but also for other high-profile personalities – Danao City-based drug lord Alvaro “Barok” Alvaro, and Chinese-Filipino businessman Kenneth Dong. Dong was tagged in the P6.4-billion shabu shipment confiscated by the Bureau of Customs last year.

“The CHR-7 strongly condemns the extra-legal means of persons engaged in the legal profession,” he said.

Lawyers condemnation

Fellow lawyers and human rights groups in Cebu condemned the killing of Ungab and called on authorities to identify and arrest the assailants and those behind the killing.

Lawyer Mundlyn Misal-Martin, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu Province Chapter, said acts of violence against lawyers have no place in a civil society.

“Any act against us, either for vengeance or not, is an act of an uncivilized man. This shouldn’t be in this generation,” she said in a statement.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) Cebu Chapter shared the same sentiments.

“This attack against a lawyer, an officer of the court, undermines the proper functioning of our entire justice system already laid bare to the fleeting events and political mood of the moment,” said NUPL in a statement posted on the Facebook account of its interim president Ian Vincent Manticajon.

The NUPL urged other lawyers to be vigilant in the quest for justice as well as the struggle to put an end to rampant killings and human rights violations, which continue to plague the country.

Meant to send message

The Cebu for Human Rights (C4FR), a group organized by lawyers, said the killing of Ungab was meant to send a message to lawyers not to defend those accused of drug violations.

“Some people think that Atty. Ungab’s death was justified because he was lawyering for an alleged drug lord. They condemn him for accepting money from an alleged drug lord and think that he is directly benefiting from the illegal drug trade. They say he was a marked man. Also, they think that lawyers are obstacles in stopping the drug trade because they would do everything to get their client out or acquitted. In the current situation where the government is waging a drug war, these people brand lawyers as drug lords too,” they said.

“Atty. Ungab did not deserve to die. He did not commit any crime by defending an alleged drug lord. He is just doing his job as a lawyer. Every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”

The C4FR said Ungab was one of around 200 lawyers who had signed a petition against extra-judicial killing on July 30, 2016.

“Extrajudicial killings have no place in a democracy that gives to the courts the sole power to adjudge guilt and mete out punishment…”

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Since 2004, nine other lawyers in Cebu had been brutally killed.

TAGS: Cebu, CHR, drug lord, Justice, NUPL

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