Gunmen kill drug-linked Philippine town mayor in his office

Philippine mayor on Duterte's 'narco list' killed in office

President Rodrigo Duterte, who on Wednesday wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel, had included Blanco in a list of officials allegedly linked to illegal drugs.

Based on the accounts of the two watchmen detailed at the municipal hall, a white van arrived and four Tagalog-speaking armed men wearing only slippers got off the vehicle and proceeded to the Mayor's Office, from where several bursts of gunfire were later heard.

Many have been linked to Duterte's war on drugs, which may have killed up to 20,000 people.

CITY-The mayor of Ronda town insouthern Cebu was gunned down inside his office early Wednesday morning.

Blanco was said to be sleeping at the Municipal Hall, where the office in which he was shot is located, out of fear for his life, PhilStar Global reported. "The mayor was there as he was sleeping in his office", Senior Inspector Jayr Palcon told AFP.

In 2016, President Duterte accused Blanco of being a narco-politician.

In an interview with radio station DWIZ previous year, Blanco said he feared for his life having been linked to the drug trade.

Just seventh months ago, Blanco's nephew and Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab was killed by unknown attackers outside Cebu City's courthouse, some 50 miles to the northeast of Ronda. "I'm really shocked. I have been serving the town for 22 years now, and my name was never besmirched until this issue came". This meant he could no longer appoint the town's police chief, inspect units or take any decisions about the force. Ungab also served as legal counsel to alleged drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

He also said the president had received "intelligence reports" that Blanco was involved in the drug trade.

11 mayors and six vice mayors have been killed since June 2016.

The killings come as the authorities are pursuing Mr Duterte's deadly crackdown on narcotics.

In July, Mayor Antonio Halili was fatally shot in the heart while singing the national anthem at a flag-raising ceremony in Tanauan city, south of Manila, in an assault by gunman positioned on a nearby hill. Duterte reportedly ordered some of the killings by a vigilante group called the Davao Death Quad, and is said to have shot and killed an agent of the National Bureau of Investigation himself.

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