Albayalde: Ramirez’s ‘drug links’ probed
CEBU, Philippines — Probers are looking into the alleged involvement of former Medellin mayor Ricardo Ramirez in the illegal drug trade as a possible motive in his murder, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said yesterday.
As this developed, the bereaved family of the slain mayor is requesting personal space at the moment as they begged off from commenting on the allegations.
Speaking to reporters, Albayalde said this is one of the angles which police investigators are pursuing in the killing of Ricardo Ramirez, an incumbent town councilor of Medellin.
“There is information he was formerly included in the drugs watchlist so we will look into this angle also,” he said on the sidelines of the 5th Tactical, Survival and Arms Expo at SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
Ramirez was arrested on July 26, 2017 when policemen enforcing a search warrant recovered assorted drug paraphernalia and a cache of unlicensed firearms from his house.
He was shot dead by armed men inside his room at the Bogo-Medellin Medical Center in Barangay Luy-a on Tuesday night where he has been under hospital arrest.
Albayalde has ordered an intensified manhunt against the armed men who stormed the hospital and disarmed the two security guards and Ramirez’s security detail from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP).
The Cebu police, for their part, formed a special investigation task group to look into Ramirez’s killing.
Albayalde described the attack on Ramirez as “shocking” as at least 15 suspects were involved in the attack. They even used a battering ram in destroying the door to the victim’s room.
“I am sure this is a criminal gang and we do not know kung merong atraso itong dating mayor na ito wala,” he said.
Albayalde said the BJMP may have also underestimated the threat on Ramirez’s life as they only assigned only one security detail.
“Titingnan din natin baka yung BJMP naman ay na underestimate yung threat on the life of their detainee,” he said.
The Cebu Provincial Police Office is still facing a blank wall on Ramirez’s killing.
“Naglisod gyud ta. Wala pa ta’y person of interest, wala pa ta kahibaw sa identity sa maong mga assailants or sa mastermind,” Police Lt. Colonel Eloveo Marquez, CPPO spokesperson, said.
Marquez said the Special Investigation Task Group is currently looking at the victim’s alleged involvement in illegal drugs and personal grudge as possible motives.
He, however, clarified both motives need further investigation and that they cannot zero in on both.
“Dili pa nato ma-establish. We need more time to investigate, blangko pa gihapon ta,” he said.
Marquez added that they have spotted similarities in Ramirez’s killing and the manner Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco was also killed in September last year.
Ramirez was shot multiple times by four men from a group of 15 who barged inside the medical center in Medellin near midnight last Tuesday.
A nurse said the men spoke in mixed Tagalog and Bisaya, boarded four sports utility vehicles, all wore bonnets, and equipped with high-powered firearms.
Blanco was sleeping in Ronda municipal hall when a group of men on board a white van also stormed the building and killed him.
Marquez said Blanco and Ramirez both had alleged involvement in illegal drugs.
He said that investigators are still checking with the family if Ramirez received threats prior to his death.
Ramirez was under hospital arrest after he complained of chest pains months after he was arrested in July 2017 for illegal possession of firearms and anti-illegal drug paraphernalia.
Former Police Regional Office-7 director Jose Mario Espino tagged him as a high-value target in the illegal drug trade.
Marquez said that Ramirez’s alleged participation is more on protecting drug dealers and using suspected shabu.
A family member yesterday told The FREEMAN that they may soon issue a statement once all of them have met, especially that some of Ramirez’s children live abroad.
Meanwhile, Marquez said that they are open to deploying more cops in Medellin town in case the residents feel unsafe.
“We are open to deploying additional forces if the local government and the local police station see the need to,” he said. Philippine Star News Service